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Compressible Magnetohydrodynamic Turbulence in the Earth&rsquo;s Magnetosheath: Estimation of the Energy Cascade Rate Using <em>in situ</em> Spacecraft Data

Compressible Magnetohydrodynamic Turbulence in the Earth’s Magnetosheath: Estimation of the Energy Cascade Rate Using in situ Spacecraft Data

Publication date: 29 January 2018

Journal: Physical Review Letters
Volume: 120
Issue: 5
Page: 055102
Year: 2018

Copyright: © 2018 American Physical Society

The first estimation of the energy cascade rate |εC| of magnetosheath turbulence is obtained using the Cluster and THEMIS spacecraft data and an exact law of compressible isothermal magnetohydrodynamics turbulence. The mean value of |εC| is found to be close to 10-13  J m-3 s-1, at least 2 orders of magnitude larger than its value in the solar wind (~10-16  J m-3 s-1 in the fast wind). Two types of turbulence are evidenced and shown to be dominated either by incompressible Alfvénic or compressible magnetosoniclike fluctuations. Density fluctuations are shown to amplify the cascade rate and its spatial anisotropy in comparison with incompressible Alfvénic turbulence. Furthermore, for compressible magnetosonic fluctuations, large cascade rates are found to lie mostly near the linear kinetic instability of the mirror mode. New empirical power-laws relating |εC| to the turbulent Mach number and to the internal energy are evidenced. These new findings have potential applications in distant astrophysical plasmas that are not accessible to in situ measurements.

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