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Isolated electrostatic structures observed throughout the Cluster orbit: relationship to magnetic field strength

Isolated electrostatic structures observed throughout the Cluster orbit: relationship to magnetic field strength

Publication date: 15 July 2004

Authors: Pickett, J.S. et al.

Journal: Ann. Geoph.
Volume: 22
Issue: 7
Page: 2515-2523
Year: 2004

Copyright: EGU

Isolated electrostatic structures are observed throughout much of the 4RE by 19.6RE Cluster orbit. These structures are observed in the Wideband plasma wave instrument's waveform data as bipolar pulses (one positive and one negative peak in the electric field amplitude) and tripolar pulses (two positive and one negative peak, or vice versa). These structures are observed at all of the boundary layers, in the solar wind and magnetosheath, and along auroral field lines at 4.5-6.5RE. Using the Wideband waveform data from the various Cluster spacecraft we have carried out a survey of the amplitudes and time durations of these structures and how these quantities vary with the local magnetic field strength. Such a survey has not been carried out before, and it reveals certain characteristics of solitary structures in a finite magnetic field, a topic still inadequately addressed by theories. We find that there is a broad range of electric field amplitudes at any specific magnetic field strength, and there is a general trend for the electric field amplitudes to increase as the strength of the magnetic field increases over a range of 5 to 500nT. We provide a possible explanation for this trend that relates to the structures being Bernstein-Greene-Kruskal mode solitary waves. There is no corresponding dependence of the duration of the structures on the magnetic field strength, although a plot of these two quantities reveals the unexpected result that with the exception of the magnetosheath, all of the time durations for all of the other regions are comparable, whereas the magnetosheath time durations clearly are in a different category of much smaller time duration. We speculate that this implies that the structures are much smaller in size. The distinctly different pulse durations for the magnetosheath pulses indicate the possibility that the pulses are generated by a mechanism which is different from the mechanism operating in other regions.

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