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Applying Magnetic Curvature to to MMS data to identify thin current sheets relative to tail reconnection
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  • Anthony Rogers,
  • Charles J Farrugia,
  • Roy B. Torbert,
  • Timothy J. Rogers
Anthony Rogers
University of New Hampshire

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Charles J Farrugia
University of New Hampshire, USA
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Roy B. Torbert
University of New Hampshire
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Timothy J. Rogers
Microsoft Corporation
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Magnetic reconnection X-lines have been observed to be more common duskward of midnight. Thin current sheets have also been postulated to be a necessary precondition for reconnection onset. We take advantage of the MMS tetrahedral formation during the 2017--2020 MMS tail seasons to calculate the thickness of the cross-tail neutral sheet relative to ion gyroradius. While a similar technique was applied to Cluster data, current sheet thickness over a broader range of radial distances has not been robustly explored before this study. We compare this to recent theories regarding mechanisms of tail current sheet thinning and to recent simulations. We find MMS spent more than twice as long in ion-scale thin current sheets in the pre-midnight sector than post-midnight, despite nearly even plasma sheet dwell time. The dawn-dusk asymmetry in the distribution of Ion Diffusion Regions, as previously reported in relation to regions of thin current sheets, is also analyzed.