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Experimental study of nonlinear interaction of plasma flow with charged thin current sheets: 1. Boundary structure and motion

Amata, E; Savin, S; Andre, M; Dunlop, M; Khotyaintsev, Y; Marcucci, MF; Fazakerley, A; ... Reme, H; + view all (2006) Experimental study of nonlinear interaction of plasma flow with charged thin current sheets: 1. Boundary structure and motion. Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics , 13 (4) 365 - 376. 10.5194/npg-13-365-2006. Green open access

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Abstract

We study plasma transport at a thin magnetopause (MP), described hereafter as a thin current sheet (TCS), observed by Cluster at the southern cusp on 13 February 2001 around 20:01 UT. The Cluster observations generally agree with the predictions of the Gas Dynamic Convection Field (GDCF) model in the magnetosheath (MSH) up to the MSH boundary layer, where significant differences are seen. We find for the MP a normal roughly along the GSE x-axis, which implies a clear departure from the local average MP normal, a similar to 90 km thickness and an outward speed of 35 km/s. Two populations are identified in the MSH boundary layer: the first one roughly perpendicular to the MSH magnetic field, which we interpret as the "incident" MSH plasma, the second one mostly parallel to B. Just after the MP crossing a velocity jet is observed with a peak speed of 240 km/s, perpendicular to B, with M-A=3 and beta> 10 (peak value 23). The magnetic field clock angle rotates by 70 degrees across the MP. E-x is the main electric field component on both sides of the MP, displaying a bipolar signature, positive on the MSH side and negative on the opposite side, corresponding to a similar to 300 V electric potential jump across the TCS. The E x B velocity generally coincides with the perpendicular velocity measured by CIS; however, in the speed jet a difference between the two is observed, which suggests the need for an extra flow source. We propose that the MP TCS can act locally as an obstacle for low-energy ions (<350 eV), being transparent for ions with larger gyroradius. As a result, the penetration of plasma by finite gyroradius is considered as a possible source for the jet. The role of reconnection is briefly discussed. The electrodynamics of the TCS along with mass and momentum transfer across it are further discussed in the companion paper by Savin et al. (2006).

Type: Article
Title: Experimental study of nonlinear interaction of plasma flow with charged thin current sheets: 1. Boundary structure and motion
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.5194/npg-13-365-2006
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.5194/npg-13-365-2006
Language: English
Additional information: © Author(s) 2006. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License
Keywords: High-latitude magnetopause, Magnetic-field characteristics, High-altitude cusp, Northward IMF, Polar cusp, Solar-wind, Cluster, Reconnection, Layer, Magnetosphere
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Space and Climate Physics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/157155
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