Publication archive

Publication archive

We report the first direct determination of the dissipation range of magnetofluid turbulence in the solar wind at the electron scales. Combining high resolution magnetic and electric field data of the Cluster spacecraft, we computed the spectrum of turbulence and found two distinct breakpoints in the magnetic spectrum at 0.4 and 35 Hz, which correspond, respectively, to the Doppler-shifted proton and electron gyroscales, frho_p and frho_e. Below frho_p, the spectrum follows a Kolmogorov scaling f -1.62, typical of spectra observed at 1 AU. Above frho_p, a second inertial range is formed with a scaling f -2.3 down to frho_e. Above frho_e, the spectrum has a steeper power law ~f 4.1 down to the noise level of the instrument. We interpret this as the dissipation range and show a remarkable agreement with theoretical predictions of a quasi-two-dimensional cascade into Kinetic Alfvén Waves (KAW).
Published: 11 June 2009
This paper presents a study of the use of a one-dimensional Vlasov Hybrid Simulation (VHS) computer code to simulate the dynamical spectra (i.e. frequency versus time spectrograms) of ELF/VLF chorus signals (from ~a fraction to ~10 kHz). Recently excellent measurements of chorus have been made in the source region close to the geomagnetic equator aboard the four spacecraft Cluster mission. Using Cluster data for wave amplitude, which is up to 300 pT, local gyrofrequency, cold plasma density, and L-shell, observed chorus signals are reproduced with remarkable fidelity and, in particular, sweep rates in the range 1-10 kHz result as observed. Further, we find that the sweep rate is a falling function of increasing cold plasma density, again in accord with observations. Finally, we have satisfactorily simulated the rather rare falling frequency elements of chorus which are sometimes observed aboard Cluster in the generation region. For both rising and falling chorus we have presented detailed structural analyses of the generation regions. The main contributor to the frequency sweep rate is primarily the establishment of wave number/frequency gradients across the generation region by the out of phase component of the resonant particle current. The secondary contributor is the shortening of the wavelength of resonant particle current relative to that of the wave field. In view of the close agreement between observation and simulation, we conclude that nonlinear electron cyclotron resonance is indeed the mechanism underlying the generation of chorus signals just outside the plasmasphere.
Published: 09 June 2009
Ground-based instruments and a number of space missions have contributed to our knowledge of the plasmasphere since its discovery half a century ago, but it is fair to say that many questions have remained unanswered. Recently, NASA's Image and ESA's Cluster probes have introduced new observational concepts, thereby providing a non-local view of the plasmasphere. Image carried an extreme ultraviolet imager producing global pictures of the plasmasphere. Its instrumentation also included a radio sounder for remotely sensing the spacecraft environment. The Cluster mission provides observations at four nearby points as the four-spacecraft configuration crosses the outer plasmasphere on every perigee pass, thereby giving an idea of field and plasma gradients and of electric current density. This paper starts with a historical overview of classical single-spacecraft data interpretation, discusses the non-local nature of the Image and Cluster measurements, and emphasizes the importance of the new data interpretation tools that have been developed to extract non-local information from these observations. The paper reviews these innovative techniques and highlights some of them to give an idea of the flavor of these methods. In doing so, it is shown how the non-local perspective opens new avenues for plasmaspheric research.
Published: 16 May 2009
This paper presents a theoretical framework for understanding plasma turbulence in astrophysical plasmas. It is motivated by observations of electromagnetic and density fluctuations in the solar wind, interstellar medium and galaxy clusters, as well as by models of particle heating in accretion disks. All of these plasmas and many others have turbulent motions at weakly collisional and collisionless scales. The paper focuses on turbulence in a strong mean magnetic field. The key assumptions are that the turbulent fluctuations are small compared to the mean field, spatially anisotropic with respect to it and that their frequency is low compared to the ion cyclotron frequency. The turbulence is assumed to be forced at some system-specific outer scale. The energy injected at this scale has to be dissipated into heat, which ultimately cannot be accomplished without collisions. A kinetic cascade develops that brings the energy to collisional scales both in space and velocity. The nature of the kinetic cascade in various scale ranges depends on the physics of plasma fluctuations that exist there. There are four special scales that separate physically distinct regimes: the electron and ion gyroscales, the mean free path and the electron diffusion scale. -- Remainder of abstract is truncated --
Published: 07 May 2009
Hot flow anomalies (HFAs) are studied using observations of the magnetometer and the plasma instrument aboard the four Cluster spacecraft. We study several specific features of tangential discontinuities on the basis of Cluster measurements from the time periods of February-April 2003, December 2005-April 2006 and January-April 2007, when the separation distance of spacecraft was large. The previously discovered condition (Facskó et al., 2008) for forming HFAs is confirmed, i.e. that the solar wind speed and fast magnetosonic Mach number values are higher than average. Furthermore, this constraint is independent of the Schwartz et al. (2000)'s condition for HFA formation. The existence of this new condition is confirmed by simultaneous ACE magnetic field and solar wind plasma observations at the L1 point, at 1.4 million km distance from the Earth. The temperature, particle density and pressure parameters observed at the time of HFA formation are also studied and compared to average values of the solar wind plasma. The size of the region affected by the HFA was estimated by using two different methods. We found that the size is mainly influenced by the magnetic shear and the angle between the discontinuity normal and the Sun-Earth direction. The size grows with the shear and (up to a certain point) with the angle as well. After that point it starts decreasing. The results are compared with the outcome of recent hybrid simulations.
Published: 06 May 2009
We investigate a series of six TCRs (traveling compression regions), appearing in the course of a small substorm on 19 September 2001. Except for two of these TCRs, all Cluster spacecraft were located in the lobe and detected the typical signatures of TCRs, i.e., compressions in |B| and bipolar Bz variations. We use these perturbations in Bz for calculations on the magnetic energy inside the TCR and compare the amount of magnetic field energy with the kinetic energy inside the underlying plasma bulge. According to results obtained from theory, the amount of magnetic energy inside TCRs is about two times higher than the kinetic plasma energy inside the accompanied plasma bulge. We verify this theoretical result by first investigations of the magnetic field energy inside TCRs. The calculations lead to a magnetic energy in the order of 1010 Joule per RE for each of the TCRs.
Published: 05 May 2009
The Cluster mission offers a unique opportunity to investigate the origin of the energy-dispersed ion structures frequently observed at 4.5-5 RE altitude in the auroral region. We present a detailed study of the 14 February 2001 northern pass, characterized by the successive observation by three spacecraft of a series of energy-dispersed structures at ~72-75° ILAT in a region of poleward convection. Equatorward, the satellites also observed a localized, steady, and intense source of outflowing energetic (3-10 keV) H+ and O+ ions. These substructures were modeled by launching millions of H+ ions from this ionospheric source and following them through time-dependent electric and magnetic fields obtained from a global MHD simulation of this event. Despite the complexity of ion orbits, the simulations showed that a large number of ions returned to the Cluster location, poleward of their source, in a number of adjacent or overlapping energy-latitude substructures with the correct dispersion. The first dispersed echo was unexpectedly generated by "half-bouncing" ions that interacted with the current sheet to return to the same hemisphere. The time-shifted observations made by two Cluster (SC1 and SC3) spacecrafts were correctly reproduced. Almost all the ions returning to the spacecraft underwent a ~2-5 keV nonadiabatic acceleration at each interaction with the current sheet in a very confined resonant region. This acceleration explains the overall energy increase from one structure to the next. This event confirms the importance of the ionospheric source in populating bouncing ion clusters within the magnetosphere, even at high latitudes.
Published: 29 April 2009
We report on the evolution of dipolarization and associated disturbances of the near-Earth current sheet during a substorm on 27 October 2007, based upon Cluster multi-point, multi-scale observations of the night-side plasma sheet at X~-10 RE. Three dipolarization events were observed accompanied by activations on ground magnetograms at 09:07, 09:14, and 09:22 UT. We found that all these events consist of two types of dipolarization signatures: (1) Earthward moving dipolarization pulse, which is accompanied by enhanced rapid Earthward flux transport and is followed by current sheet disturbances with decrease in BZ and enhanced local current density, and subsequent (2) increase in BZ toward a stable level, which is more prominent at Earthward side and evolving tailward. During the 09:07 event, when Cluster was located in a thin current sheet, the dipolarization and fast Earthward flows were also accompanied by further thinning of the current sheet down to a half-thickness of about 1000 km and oscillation in a kink-like mode with a period of ~15 s and propagating duskward. Probable cause of this "flapping current sheet" is shown to be the Earthward high-speed flow. The oscillation ceased as the flow decreased and the field configuration became more dipolar. The later rapid flux transport events at 09:14 and 09:22 UT took place when the field configuration was initially more dipolar and were also associated with BZ disturbance and local current density enhancement, but to a lesser degree. Hence, current sheet disturbances induced by initial dipolarization pulses could differ, depending on the configuration of the current sheet.
Published: 10 April 2009
A detailed statistical study of the magnetic structure of the dayside polar cusps is presented, based on multi-year sets of magnetometer data of Polar and Cluster spacecraft, taken in 1996-2006 and 2001-2007, respectively. Thanks to the dense data coverage in both Northern and Southern Hemispheres, the analysis spanned nearly the entire length of the cusps, from low altitudes to the cusp "throat" and the magnetosheath. Subsets of data falling inside the polar cusp "funnels" were selected with the help of TS05 and IGRF magnetic field models, taking into account the dipole tilt and the solar wind/IMF conditions. The selection funnels were shifted within ±10° of SM latitude around the model cusp location, and linear regression parameters were calculated for each sliding subset, further divided into 10 bins of distance in the range 2<=R<=12 RE, with the following results. (1) Diamagnetic depression, caused by the penetrated magnetosheath plasma, becomes first visible at R~4-5 RE, rapidly deepens with growing R, peaks at R~6-9 RE, and then partially subsides and widens in latitude at the cusp's outer end. (2) The depression peak is systematically shifted poleward (by ~2° of the footpoint latitude) with respect to the model cusp field line, passing through the min{|B|} point at the magnetopause. (3) At all radial distances, clear and distinct peaks of the correlation between the local By and By(IMF) and of the corresponding proportionality coefficient are observed. A remarkably regular variation of that coefficient with R quantitatively confirms the field-aligned geometry of the cusp currents associated with the IMF By, found in earlier observations.
Published: 03 April 2009
Sources of low-energy ring current ions in the early morning sector (eastward drifting energy domain of about <5 keV) are examined using both statistical analyses and numerical tracing methods (phase-space mapping and simulation). In about 90% of Cluster perigee traversals at 02~07 local time, these low-energy ring current ions have dual ion populations: one is wedge-like energy-dispersed ions, and the other is a band-like ions over different latitudes in a narrow energy range at the upper energy threshold of the wedge-like energy-dispersed ions. Both components are most likely created during past substorm activities. Numerical tracing results strongly suggest that these two components have different sources with different temperatures and elapsed times. The band-like part most likely comes from ions with plasma sheet temperature (~1 keV), and the energy-dispersed part most likely comes from cold ions (temperature <0.1 keV). The source density of the cold component (0.2~0.5x106m-3) is slightly less than that of the hot component (0.5x106m-3), while Cluster observation shows slightly higher density for the wedge-like part than the low-energy band-like part. The hot source component also explains the observed high-energy (>10 keV) ions drifting westward after adiabatic energization in the nightside under time-varying electric field. The wedge-like part has much shorter elapsed time, i.e., less charge-exchange loss, than the band-like part.
Published: 02 March 2009
We use multipoint observation data by Cluster during time periods when the interspacecraft separation distance was between 1 and 1.5 Earth radii in order to study the physical processes related to diffuse ions at <200 keV/e. For our analysis we use data from the Research with Adaptive Particle Imaging Detectors (RAPID) experiment onboard Cluster SC1 and SC3. We determine spatial ion density gradients by using proton intensities in the 27.7-159.7 keV energy range and helium intensities in the 137.8-235.1 keV energy range as a function of distance from the bow shock along the magnetic field. Our results show that the diffuse ions are subject to diffusive transport and the ion partial densities decrease exponentially with increasing distance from the bow shock. By complementing RAPID data with Cluster Ion Spectrometry measurements at lower energies (from 10 to 32 keV) from the same upstream ion event we find that the e-folding distance of energetic ion density increases almost linearly with energy. This effect is also seen in the hardening of the particle spectra with increasing distance from the bow shock. We determine the spatial diffusion mean free path and the diffusion coefficient as a function of ion energy by assuming that upstream diffusion is balanced by downstream convection.
Published: 24 March 2009
We study the plasma turbulence, at scales larger than the ion inertial length scale, downstream of a quasiparallel bow shock using Cluster multispacecraft measurements. We show that turbulence is intermittent and well described by the extended structure function model, which takes into account the spatial inhomogeneity of the cascade rate. For the first time we use multispacecraft observations to characterize the evolution of magnetosheath turbulence, particularly its intermittency, as a function of the distance from the bow shock. The intermittency significantly changes over the distance of the order of 100 ion inertial lengths, being increasingly stronger and anisotropic away from the bow shock.
Published: 22 March 2009
On 20 February 2005, Cluster in the outer magnetosphere and Double Star-2 (TC-2) at mid-altitude are situated in the vicinity of the northern cusp/mantle, with Cluster moving sunward and TC-2 anti-sunward. Their magnetic footprints come very close together at about 15:28 UT, over the common field-of-view of SuperDARN radars. Thanks to this conjunction, we determine the velocity, the transverse sizes, perpendicular and parallel to this velocity, and the shape of three magnetic flux tubes of magnetosheath plasma injection. The velocity of the structures determined from the Cluster four-spacecraft timing analysis is almost purely antisunward, in contrast with the antisunward and duskward convection velocity inside the flux tubes. The transverse sizes are defined from the Cluster-TC-2 separation perpendicular to the magnetic field, and from the time spent by a Cluster spacecraft in one structure; they are comprised between 0.6 and 2 RE in agreement with previous studies. Finally, using a comparison between the eigenvectors deduced from a variance analysis of the magnetic perturbation at the four Cluster and at TC-2, we show that the upstream side of the injection flux tubes is magnetically well defined, with even a concave front for the third one giving a bean-like shape, whereas the downstream side is far more turbulent. We also realise the first quantitative comparison between field-aligned currents at Cluster calculated with the curlometer technique and with the single-spacecraft method, assuming infinite parallel current sheets and taking into account the velocity of the injection flux tubes. The results agree nicely, confirming the validity of both methods. Finally, we compare the field-aligned current distribution of the three injection flux tubes at the altitudes of Cluster and TC-2. -- Remainder of abstract truncated --
Published: 12 March 2009
A new kind of magnetohydrodynamic waves is analyzed for a current sheet in the presence of a small normal magnetic field component (Bz) varying along the sheet. For the initial undisturbed state, a simplified model of the current sheet is considered with a Harris-like current density distribution across the sheet. Within the framework of this model, an analytical solution is obtained for the flapping-type wave oscillations and instability, related to the gradient of the normal magnetic field component along the current sheet. The flapping wave frequency is found to be a function of the wave number, which has an asymptotic saturation for large wave numbers. This frequency is pure real in a stable situation for the magnetotail current sheet, when the Bz component increases toward Earth. The current sheet becomes unstable in some regions, where the Bz component decreases locally toward Earth. In the stable region, the "kink"-like wave oscillations are calculated for an initial Gaussian perturbation localized to the center of the current sheet. The flapping wave propagations are analyzed for two cases: (1) the initial perturbation is fixed, and (2) the source is moving toward Earth. In the last case, the Mach cone is obtained for the propagating flapping waves. The source for the flapping waves is associated with the fast plasma flow originated from the reconnection region.
Published: 12 March 2009
Field-aligned ion beams (FABs) originate at the quasi-perpendicular Earth's bow shock and constitute an important ion population in the foreshock region. The bulk velocity of these FABs depends significantly on the shock normal angle, which is the angle between shock normal and upstream interplanetary magnetic field (IMF). This dependency may therefore be taken as an indicator of the local structure of the shock. Applying the direct reflection model to Cluster measurements, we have developed a method that uses proton FABs in the foreshock region for remote sensing of the local shock structure. The comparison of the model results with the multi-spacecraft observations of FAB events shows very good agreement in terms of wave amplitude and frequency of surface waves at the shock front.
Published: 02 March 2009
New investigations have renewed the debate on the occurrence of magnetic reconnection of Earth's dayside magnetopause. Here, we show for the first time strong evidence for a high-latitude reconnection site, located on initially closed field lines, where the magnetic field orientations inside and outside the magnetopause are close to antiparallel. The evidence centers on repeated sampling of the ion diffusion region and associated null magnetic field by four spacecraft in formation, together with simultaneous monitoring of the local magnetosheath behavior by a fifth spacecraft.
Published: 20 February 2009
Depleted flux tubes, or plasma bubbles, are one possible explanation of bursty bulk flows, which are transient high speed flows thought to be responsible for a large proportion of flux transport in the magnetotail. Here we report observations of one such plasma bubble, made by the four Cluster spacecraft and Double Star TC-2 around 14:00 UT on 21 September 2005, during a period of southward, but BY-dominated IMF. In particular the first direct observations of return flows around the edges of a plasma bubble, and the first observations of plasma bubble features within 8 RE of the Earth, consistent with MHD simulations (Birn et al., 2004) are presented. The implications of the presence of a strong BY in the IMF and magnetotail on the propagation of the plasma bubble and development of the associated current systems in the magnetotail and ionosphere are discussed. It is suggested that a strong BY can rotate the field aligned current systems at the edges of the plasma bubble away from its duskward and dawnward flanks.
Published: 16 February 2009
The four identical Cluster spacecraft, launched in 2000, orbit the Earth in a tetrahedral configuration and on a highly eccentric polar orbit (4-19.6 RE). This allows the crossing of critical layers that develop as a result of the interaction between the solar wind and the Earth's magnetosphere. Since 2004 the Chinese Double Star TC-1 and TC-2 spacecraft, whose payload comprise also backup models of instruments developed by European scientists for Cluster, provided two additional points of measurement, on a larger scale: the Cluster and Double Star orbits are such that the spacecraft are almost in the same meridian, allowing conjugate studies. The Cluster and Double Star observations during the 2005 and 2006 extreme solar events are presented, showing uncommon plasma parameters values in the near-Earth solar wind and in the magnetosheath. These include solar wind velocities up to ~900 km/s during an ICME shock arrival, accompanied by a sudden increase in the density by a factor of ~5 and followed by an enrichment in He++ in the secondary front of the ICME. In the magnetosheath ion density values as high as 130 cm-3 were observed, and the plasma flow velocity there reached values even higher than the typical solar wind velocity. These resulted in unusual dayside magnetosphere compression, detection of penetrating high-energy particles in the magnetotail, and ring current development following several successive injections of energetic particles in the inner magnetosphere, which "washed out" the previously formed nose-like ion structures.
Published: 16 February 2009
Although the solar wind deceleration in the terrestrial foreshock was noticed three decades ago, previous studies show some conflicting results. This paper presents direct evidence of solar wind deceleration in the foreshock of the Earth by using the data of two Cluster satellites. On 2 February 2003, the two satellites (C1 and C3) of Cluster missions are inside and outside the foreshock, respectively, approximately along the solar wind flow line, which can effectively exclude the uncertainty caused by the spatial and temporal changes of solar wind itself. Comparison of the plasma data recorded by two satellites shows that the solar wind velocity decreases in the foreshock and the largest deceleration reaches 22 km/s. The velocity distribution of ions in the phase space indicates that the solar wind ions undergo pitch angle scattering in the foreshock. The solar wind deceleration is associated with diffuse ions and ULF wave activities. The diffuse ion density reached 0.25 cm-3, about 7% of the solar wind density. The interaction of ULF waves with solar wind also deflects the solar wind away from the bow shock in both the ecliptic and the meridian planes. Meanwhile, the solar wind deceleration is accompanied by thermalization during which the solar wind temperature can reach 240 eV.
Published: 12 February 2009
Spacecraft observations of turbulence within a magnetic reconnection (guide field ~0) ion diffusion region are presented. In the inertial subrange, electric and magnetic fluctuations both followed a -5/3 power law; at higher frequencies, the spectral indices were -1 and -8/3, respectively. The dispersion relation was found to be consistent with fast-mode-whistler waves rather than kinetic Alfvén-ion cyclotron waves. Lower hybrid waves, which could be enhanced by whistler mode conversion, were observed, but the associated anomalous resistivity was not found to significantly modify the reconnection rate.
Published: 20 January 2009
24-Feb-2020 21:21 UT

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