Publication archive

Publication archive

The definition of "electron diffusion regions" and criteria for identifying them in magnetic field reconnection events are given. By employing these criteria and further constraints on the measured parallel electric field, 117 electron diffusion regions have been found in searching through 3 years of Polar satellite subsolar data. They exist in filamentary currents in which parallel electric fields and depressed plasma densities are found and where the electron beta is generally less than 1. The average parallel electric field in these events is about 30% of the average 38 mV/m perpendicular field. The size of these regions is the order of the electron skin depth or less. These electron diffusion regions are topological boundaries in the electron and magnetic field line flows because the components of E × B/B² on their opposite sides are frequently different. These regions are found throughout the magnetopause but mainly at the magnetospheric separatrix. The divergence of the pressure tensor in the Generalized Ohm's Law may be the leading term that balances the parallel electric field if the observed large plasma density variations (and hence electron pressure variations) were spatial and not temporal. The picture resulting from this data is of a magnetopause that is highly structured and filamentary and very different from a linear, laminar, symmetric structure sometimes considered in theories or simulations. However, it is emphasized that events such as those described have been found in fewer than 20% of the magnetopauses examined, so the conventional picture may be more prevalent.
Published: 28 December 2005
Nineteen electron diffusion regions at magnetic field reconnection sites have been found in one hour of Cluster satellite data near the subsolar magnetopause. Investigations on previously unachieved spatial and temporal scales show the following for the first time: direct conversion of magnetic energy to electron energy (The resulting accelerated electrons, their field-aligned currents, and their post-acceleration fate were measured); the spatial dimensions of the large electric fields in the electron diffusion regions have an average thickness of 0.3 times the electron skin depth, in agreement with theory; and these electron diffusion regions were topological boundaries between open and closed magnetic field geometries that contained different plasma and magnetic field line flows. The electron diffusion regions were located at the magnetospheric separatrix where the magnetic field was large and the electron beta was less than one.
Published: 17 December 2005
We present an interval of extremely long-lasting narrow-band Pc5 pulsations during the recovery phase of a large geomagnetic storm. These pulsations occurred continuously for many hours and were observed throughout the magnetosphere and in the dusk-sector ionosphere. The subject of this paper is the favorable radial alignment of the Cluster, Polar, and geosynchronous satellites in the dusk sector during a 3-hour subset of this interval that allows extensive analysis of the global nature of the pulsations and the tracing of their energy transfer from the solar wind to the ground. Virtually monochromatic large-amplitude pulsations were observed by the CANOPUS magnetometer chain at dusk for several hours, during which the Cluster spacecraft constellation traversed the dusk magnetopause. The solar wind conditions were very steady, the solar wind speed was fast, and time series analysis of the solar wind dynamic pressure shows no significant power concentrated in the Pc5 band. The pulsations are observed in both geosynchronous electron and magnetic field data over a wide range of local times while Cluster is in the vicinity of the magnetopause providing clear evidence of boundary oscillations with the same periodicity as the ground and geosynchronous pulsations. Furthermore, the Polar spacecraft crossed the equatorial dusk magnetosphere outside of geosynchronous orbit (L ~ 6-9) and observed significant electric and magnetic perturbations around the same quasi-stable central frequency (1.4-1.6 mHz). The Poynting vector observed by the Polar spacecraft associated with these pulsations has strong field-aligned oscillations, as expected for standing Alfvén waves, as well as a nonzero azimuthal component, indicating a downtail component to the energy propagation. - Remainder of abstract truncated -
Published: 15 December 2005
On March 31, 2001 at ~0635 UT when the CLUSTER constellation was near local midnight and at ~4 RE geocentric distance, sensors observed an energetic electron injection event associated with a strong (AE ~ 1200 nT) magnetospheric substorm. Geostationary spacecraft 1991-080 located at ~20 LT also saw an abrupt electron injection event at ~0630 UT and FAST spacecraft instruments (~19 LT) detected a powerful set of magnetic field, electric field, and energetic plasma signatures at ~0637 UT. The energetic neutral atom imaging experiments onboard the IMAGE spacecraft detected an injection of substorm-produced ions in the pre-midnight sector commencing at ~0630 UT. Electron injection signatures at the four separate CLUSTER locations allow us to infer the location, speed, and direction of the substorm injection boundary. Hence, the CLUSTER (and IMAGE) telescope-microscope combination is a long-sought realization of a major magnetospheric research objective and shows the power of localized multi-point measurements from CLUSTER.
Published: 20 September 2002
In this paper we report Cluster observation of a fast flow event in the plasma sheet associated with a small auroral substorm intensification at 1838 UT on August 12, 2001. Cluster, located in the plasma sheet, experienced significant thinning of the current sheet associated with a high-speed Earthward flow of 900 km s-1. By using the four spacecraft magnetic field data and a Harris-type current sheet model, it was estimated that the thickness of the current sheet changes from about 1 RE before the flow observation down to 400 km, i.e., close to the ion inertia length. In the vicinity of this thin current sheet there were also signatures of enhanced current density off the center of the neutral sheet, consistent with recent Geotail results.
Published: 14 December 2002
During the interval 0947-0951 UT on 1 October 2001, when Cluster was located at XGSM = -16.4 RE near ZGSM = 0 in the pre-midnight magnetotail, the Cluster barycenter crosses the neutral sheet four times. High speed proton flow, with reversal from tailward to Earthward, was detected during the crossings. Using a linear gradient/curl estimator technique we estimate current density and magnetic field curvature within the crossings. These observations exhibit the tailward passage of an X-line over the Cluster tetrahedron. These current sheet has a bifurcated structure in the regions of tailward and earthward flows and a flat and/or slightly bifurcated thin current sheet in between. A distinct quadrupolar Hall magnetic field component was observed.
Published: 11 June 2003
In this review, we report on some new aspects of magnetotail dynamics found in the data of the first traversal of the magnetotail by the Cluster quartet in summer and autumn 2001: (1) The electron drift instrument made the first direct measurements of tail lobe convection. The statistical data shows convection toward the center of the plasma sheet, with a clear dependence on the sign of the interplanetary magnetic field BZ component. Moreover, a dawn-dusk shear (if one compares convection in opposite lobes) for BY-dominated interplanetary field hints to an interconnection of open lobe field lines with the interplanetary medium. (2) At times the tail current sheet resembles a one-dimensional Harris sheet, which might get as thin as 500 km and may carry current densities as high as 20-40 nA m-2. (3) At other times, the current sheet may exhibit rapid kink-type flapping motion with vertical velocities of 50-100 km s-1. During these intervals the current sheet clearly exhibits a bifurcated structure, with two current density maxima around a region of much reduced current in the center of the plasma sheet.
Published: 30 November 2005
This paper presents the results of a statistical investigation into the nature of oblique wave propagation in the foreshock. Observations have shown that foreshock ULF waves tend to propagate obliquely to the background magnetic field. This is in contrast to theoretical work, which predicts that the growth rate of the mechanism responsible for the waves is maximized for parallel propagation, at least in the linear regime in homogenous plasma. Here we use data from the Cluster mission to study in detail the oblique propagation of a particular class of foreshock ULF wave, the 30 s quasi-monochromatic wave. We find that these waves persistently propagate at oblique angles to the magnetic field. Over the whole data set, the average value of thetakB was found to be 21 ± 14°. Oblique propagation is observed even when the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) cone angle is small, such that the convective component of the solar wind velocity, vExB, is comparable to the wave speed. In this subset of the data, the mean value of thetakB was 12.9 ± 7.1°. In the subset of data for which the IMF cone angle exceeded 45°, the mean value of thetakB was 19.5 ± 10.7°. When the angle between the IMF and the x geocentric solar ecliptic (GSE) direction (i.e., the solar wind vector) is large, the wave k vectors tend to be confined in the plane defined by the x GSE direction and the magnetic field and a systematic deflection is observed. The dependence of thetakB on vExB is also studied.
Published: 26 November 2005
We present initial results from a statistical study of Cluster multispacecraft flux transfer event (FTE) observations at the high-latitude magnetopause and low-latitude flanks from February 2001 to June 2003. Cluster FTEs are observed at both the high-latitude magnetopause and low-latitude flanks for both southward and northward IMF. Among the 1222 FTEs, 36%, 20%, 14%, and 30% are seen by one, two, three, and four Cluster satellites, respectively. There are 73% (27%) of the FTEs observed outside (inside) the magnetopause, which might be caused by the motion of FTEs toward the magnetosheath when they propagate from subsolar magnetopause to the midlatitude and high-latitude magnetopause and low-latitude flanks. We obtain an average FTE separation time of 7.09 min, which is at the lower end of the previous results. The mean BN peak-peak magnitude of Cluster FTEs is significantly larger than that from low-latitude FTE studies. FTE BN peak-peak magnitude clearly increases with increasing absolute magnetic latitude (MLAT), it has a weaker dependence on magnetic local time (MLT) with a peak near the magnetic local noon, and it has a complex dependence on Earth dipole tilt with a peak at around zero. FTE periodic behavior is found to be controlled by MLT, with a general increase of FTE separation time with increasing MLT, and by Earth dipole tilt, with a peak FTE separation time at around zero Earth dipole tilt. There is no clear dependence of FTE separation time on MLAT. There is a weak increase of FTE BN peak-peak magnitude with increasing FTE separation time, and we see no clear dependence of it on FTE BN peak-peak time. When no FTE identification thresholds are used, more accurate calculations of some FTE statistical parameters, including the mean BN peak-peak time, can be obtained. Further, comparing results with different thresholds can help obtain useful information about FTEs.
Published: 26 November 2005
Previous Cluster observations have shown that the flapping motions of the Earth's magnetotail are of internal origin and that kink-like waves are emitted from the central part of the tail and propagate toward the tail flanks. The newly launched Double Star Program (DSP) TC-1 satellite allows us to investigate neutral sheet at 10-13 Re in the tail. Using conjunctions with Cluster we will have simultaneous observations at 10-13 and 16-19 Re of these flapping motions. In this paper, we present the first results of neutral sheet oscillations observed by the Cluster and Double Star satellites on 5 August 2004.
Published: 08 November 2005
We present Cluster and Double Star-1 (TC-1) observations from a close magnetic conjunction on 8 May 2004. The five spacecraft were on the dawnside flank of the magnetosphere, with TC-1 located near the equatorial plane and Cluster at higher geographic latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere. TC-1, at its apogee, skimmed the magnetopause for almost 8h (between 08:00-16:00 UT). Flux Transfer Events (FTEs), moving southward/tailward from the reconnection site, were observed by TC-1 throughout almost all of the period. Cluster, travelling on a mainly dawn-dusk trajectory, crossed the magnetopause at around 10:30 UT in the same Magnetic Local Time (MLT) sector as TC-1 and remained close to the magnetopause boundary layer in the Southern Hemisphere. The four Cluster spacecraft observed FTEs for a period of 6.5h between 07:30 and 14:00 UT. The very clear signatures and the finite transverse sizes of the FTEs observed by TC-1 and Cluster imply that, during this event, sporadic reconnection occurred. From the properties of these FTEs, the reconnection site was located northward of both TC-1 and Cluster on the dawn flank of the magnetosphere. Reconnection occurred between draped magnetosheath and closed magnetospheric field lines. Despite variable interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) conditions and IMF-Bz turnings, the IMF clock angle remained greater than 70° and the location site appeared to remain relatively stable in position during the whole period. This result is in agreement with previous studies which reported that the dayside reconnection remained active for an IMF clock angle greater than 70°. The simultaneous observation of FTEs at both Cluster and TC-1, separated by 2h in MLT, implies that the reconnection site on the magnetopause must have been extended over several hours in MLT.
Published: 08 November 2005
Reprinted from Space Science Reviews, Volume 118, Nos. 1-4, 2005. Contents:
  • The Near-Earth Solar Wind
    M. L. Goldstein, et al.
  • The Foreshock
    J. P. Eastwood, et al.
  • The Magnetosheath
    E. A. Lucek, et al.
  • Cluster at the Bow Shock: Introduction
    A. Balogh, et al.
  • Quasi-perpendicular Shock Structure and Processes
    S. D. Bale, et al.
  • Quasi-parallel Shock Structure and Processes
    D. Burgess, et al.
  • Cluster at the Bow Shock: Status and Outlook
    M. Scholer, et al.
  • Magnetopause and Boundary Layer
    J. Keyser, et al.
  • Cluster at the Magnetospheric Cusps
    P. J. Cargill, et al.
  • Magnetopause Processes
    T. D. Phan, et al.
Published: 16 September 2005
A little more than four years after its launch, the first magnetospheric, multi-satellite mission Cluster has already tremendously contributed to our understanding about the coupled solar wind - magnetosphere - ionosphere system. This is mostly due to its ability, for the first time, to provide instantaneous spatial views of structures in the system, to separate temporal and spatial variations, and to derive velocities and directions of moving structures. Ground-based data have an important complementary impact on Cluster-related research, as they provide a larger-scale context to put the spacecraft data in, allow to virtually enlarge the spacecrafts' field of view, and make it possible to study in detail the coupling between the magnetosphere and the ionosphere in a spatially extended domain. With this paper we present an interim review of cooperative research done with Cluster and ground-based instruments, including the support of other space-based data. We first give a short overview of the instrumentation used, and present some specific data analysis and modeling techniques that have been devised for the combined analysis of Cluster and ground-based data. Then we review highlighted results of the research using Cluster and ground-based data, ordered into dayside and nightside processes. Such highlights include, for example, the identification of the spatio-temporal signatures of the different modes of reconnection on the dayside, and the detailed analysis of the electrodynamic magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling of bursty bulk flows in the tail plasma sheet on the nightside. The aim of this paper is to provide a "sourcebook" for the Cluster and ground-based community that summarises the work that has been done in this field of research, and to identify open questions and possible directions for future studies.
Published: 16 September 2005
Turbulence in fluids and plasmas is a ubiquitous phenomenon driven by a variety of sources-currents, sheared flows, gradients in density and temperature, and so on. Turbulence involves fluctuations of physical properties on many different scales, which interact nonlinearly to produce self-organized structures in the form of vortices. Vortex motion in fluids and magnetized plasmas is typically governed by nonlinear equations, examples of which include the Navier-Stokes equation, the Charney-Hasegawa-Mima equations and their numerous generalizations. These nonlinear equations admit solutions in the form of different types of vortices that are frequently observed in a variety of contexts: in atmospheres, in oceans and planetary systems, in the heliosphere, in the Earth's ionosphere and magnetosphere, and in laboratory plasma experiments. Here we report the discovery by the Cluster satellites of a distinct class of vortex motion-short-scale drift-kinetic Alfvén (DKA) vortices-in the Earth's magnetospheric cusp region. As is the case for the larger Kelvin-Helmholtz vortices observed previously, these dynamic structures should provide a channel for transporting plasma particles and energy through the magnetospheric boundary layers.
Published: 12 August 2005
The Van Allen radiation belts are two regions encircling the Earth in which energetic charged particles are trapped inside the Earth's magnetic field. Their properties vary according to solar activity and they represent a hazard to satellites and humans in space. An important challenge has been to explain how the charged particles within these belts are accelerated to very high energies of several million electron volts. Here we show, on the basis of the analysis of a rare event where the outer radiation belt was depleted and then re-formed closer to the Earth, that the long established theory of acceleration by radial diffusion is inadequate; the electrons are accelerated more effectively by electromagnetic waves at frequencies of a few kilohertz. Wave acceleration can increase the electron flux by more than three orders of magnitude over the observed timescale of one to two days, more than sufficient to explain the new radiation belt. Wave acceleration could also be important for Jupiter, Saturn and other astrophysical objects with magnetic fields.
Published: 09 September 2005
The four-satellite Cluster mission serves as both a 'Microscope' and a 'telescope' for magnetospheric scientists. Using its suite of state-of-the-art instruments, it is providing a close-up view of complex smallscale physical processes occurring around the Earth. These processes are often reflections of other, sometimes violent processes that are taking place much further away from our spacecraft, which means that Cluster also serves as a 'telescope' for observing those more distant processes.
Published: 15 February 2005
Published: 28 September 2005
Soft gamma-ray repeaters (SGRs) are neutron stars that emit short (<~1 s) and energetic (<~1042 erg s-1) bursts of soft gamma-rays. Only four of them are currently known. Occasionally, SGRs have been observed to emit much more energetic "giant flares'' (~1044-1045 erg s-1). These are exceptional and rare events. We report here on serendipitous observations of the intense gamma-ray flare from SGR 1806-20 that occurred on 2004 December 27. Unique data from the Cluster and Double Star TC-2 satellites, designed to study the Earth's magnetosphere, provide the first observational evidence of three separate timescales within the early (first 100 ms) phases of this class of events. These observations reveal that in addition to the initial very steep (<0.25 ms) X-ray onset, there is first a 4.9 ms exponential rise timescale followed by a continued exponential rise in intensity on a timescale of 70 ms. These three timescales are a prominent feature of current theoretical models, including the timescale (several milliseconds) for fracture propagation in the crust of the neutron star.
Published: 16 July 2005
The Van Allen radiation belts are two regions encircling the Earth in which energetic charged particles are trapped inside the Earth's magnetic field. Their properties vary according to solar activity and they represent a hazard to satellites and humans in space. An important challenge has been to explain how the charged particles within these belts are accelerated to very high energies of several million electron volts. Here we show, on the basis of the analysis of a rare event where the outer radiation belt was depleted and then re-formed closer to the Earth, that the long established theory of acceleration by radial diffusion is inadequate; the electrons are accelerated more effectively by electromagnetic waves at frequencies of a few kilohertz. Wave acceleration can increase the electron flux by more than three orders of magnitude over the observed timescale of one to two days, more than sufficient to explain the new radiation belt. Wave acceleration could also be important for Jupiter, Saturn and other astrophysical objects with magnetic fields.
Published: 09 September 2005
The inner magnetosphere's current mapping is one of the key elements for current loop closure inside the entire magnetosphere. A method for directly computing the current is the multi-spacecraft curlometer technique, which is based on the application of Maxwell-Ampère's law. This requires the use of four-point magnetic field high resolution measurements. The FGM experiment on board the four Cluster spacecraft allows, for the first time, an instantaneous calculation of the magnetic field gradients and thus a measurement of the local current density.
Published: 29 July 2005
24-Feb-2020 22:04 UT

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