Open Access

Visualization and criticality of magnetotail field topology in a three-dimensional particle simulation

  • DongSheng Cai1Email author,
  • Yaoting Li1,
  • Taizi Ichikawai1,
  • Chijic Xiao1 and
  • Ken-ichi Nishikawa2
Earth, Planets and Space201453:BF03351698

DOI: 10.1186/BF03351698

Received: 9 July 2000

Accepted: 10 July 2001

Published: 20 June 2014


We present the temporal evolution of magnetic field topology in the magnetotail with a southward IMF in order to identify the magnetic reconnection. The magnetic field topology is uniquely determined by the eigenvalues of the critical points, if they are not degenerated. This is because the critical points, their number, and the rules between them characterize the whole magnetic field pattern. At the critical points, the magnetics become zero. The magnetic vector field curves and surfaces are both integrated out along the principal directions of certain classes of critical points including the Earth’s dipole magnetic field. The skeleton that includes the critical points, characteristic curves, and surfaces provides the three-dimensional topological structure of the reconnection. The change of the skeleton, i.e. the change of the topology, has revealed the occurrence of magnetic reconnection. Namely, three-dimensional “X-points” or the more-than-two critical points that are saddle and connected each other are unstable and can move, vanish, and generated.