Voyager observations of magnetic sectors and heliospheric current sheet crossings in the outer heliosphere

Richardson, J.D., L.F. Burlaga, J.F. Drake, M.E. Hill, M. Opher
November, 2016
Astrophys J.
Journal Article

Voyager 1 (V1) has passed through the heliosheath and is in the local interstellar medium. Voyager 2 (V2) has been in the heliosheath since 2007. The role of reconnection in the heliosheath is under debate; compression of the heliospheric current sheets (HCS) in the heliosheath could lead to rapid reconnection and a reconfiguration of the magnetic field topology. This paper compares the expected and actual amounts of time the Voyager spacecraft observe each magnetic sector and the number of HCS crossings. The predicted and observed values generally agree well. One exception is at Voyager 1 in 2008 and 2009, where the distribution of sectors is more equal than expected and the number of HCS crossings is small. Two other exceptions are at V1 in 2011–2012 and at V2 in 2012, when the spacecraft are in the opposite magnetic sector less than expected and see fewer HCS crossings than expected. These features are consistent with those predicted for reconnection, and consequently searches for other reconnection signatures should focus on these times.

Magnetic reconnection
Sun: heliosphere