Ion velocity distributions within the LLBL and their possible implication to multiple reconnections
We analyze two LLBL crossings made by the Interball-Tail satellite under a southward or variable magnetosheath magnetic field: one crossing on the flank of the magnetosphere, and another one closer to the subsolar point. Three different types of ion velocity distributions within the LLBL are observed: (a) D-shaped distributions, (b) ion velocity distributions consisting of two counter-streaming components of magnetosheath-type, and (c) distributions with three components, one of which has nearly zero parallel velocity and two counter-streaming components. Only the (a) type fits to the single magnetic flux tube formed by reconnection between the magnetospheric and magnetosheath magnetic fields. We argue that two counter-streaming magnetosheath-like ion components observed by Interball within the LLBL cannot be explained by the reflection of the ions from the magnetic mirror deeper within the magnetosphere. Types (b) and (c) ion velocity distributions would form within spiral magnetic flux tubes consisting of a mixture of alternating segments originating from the magnetosheath and from magnetospheric plasma. The shapes of ion velocity distributions and their evolution with decreasing number density in the LLBL indicate that a significant part of the LLBL is located on magnetic field lines of long spiral flux tube islands at the magnetopause, as has been proposed and found to occur in magnetopause simulations. We consider these observations as evidence for multiple reconnection
Χ-lines between magnetosheath and magnetospheric flux tubes.
Key words. Magnetospheric physics (magnetopause, cusp and boundary layers; solar wind-magnetosphere interactions)