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There and back again... An Earth magneto-tale: understanding plasma flows in the magnetotail
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Physics.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1167-8055
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Bort och hem igen... En magnetosfärs äventyr : studier av plasmaflöden i jordens magnetsvans (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

On average, the Earth's magnetotail plasma sheet seems to be a calm region of the magnetosphere where the plasma moves slowly towards Earth. However, the plasma sheet actually hosts many phenomena, some of which can affect Earth. For example, high-speed flows of plasma with speed larger than 400 km/s are observed in the plasma sheet and they can lead to aurorae. Such dynamical phenomena and the impact they may have on Earth naturally makes the plasma sheet an important region of study. Even though these high-speed flows can affect Earth, they are observed less than 5% of the time, meaning that most of the time, other disturbances take place in the plasma sheet. Our aim is to investigate and better understand the plasma dynamics in the plasma sheet.

The plasma above and below the cross-tail current sheet was previously thought to convect in the same direction. However, we find that under clearly non-zero Interplanetary Magnetic Field (IMF)By (dawn-dusk component), the plasma has a tendency to convect in opposite dawn-dusk direction across the current sheet near the midnight sector depending on the sign of IMF By.

The high-speed plasma flows are known to be associated with an increase of the northward component of the magnetic field as they propagate toward Earth. Using simulations, we notice that the magnetic field lines are bent by the high-speed flows and dents can appear. The deformation of the magnetic field is such that it may be directed towards the tail above the cross-tail current sheet and towards the Earth below it. This is opposite to the expected orientation of the magnetic field thus making this feature important in order to properly identify the region in which a spacecraft is located.

At times, the plasma can be seen to move back and forth in an oscillatory manner. We investigate statistically such oscillatory behaviour and compare them to high-speed flows and to time periods when the plasma is calm. These oscillatory flows are observed about 8% of the time in the plasma sheet. They typically have a frequency of about 1.7 mHz (~10 min period) and usually last about 41 min.

Some oscillations of the plasma velocity are observed along the magnetic field. The particles measured by the satellite initially have a velocity parallel to the magnetic field and towards Earth. Gradually with time, the measured velocity of the particles turns around to first become more perpendicular to the magnetic field and then be along the magnetic field but away from Earth. These signatures are interpreted simply as being due to mirroring particles injected tailward of the satellite and move toward Earth. The particles are then reflected, and move away from Earth. We investigate the general features of such oscillations along the magnetic field and find that the source of the particles is typically located less than 25 RE (Earth's radii) tailward of the satellite.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå University , 2020. , p. 54
Keywords [en]
Plasma dynamics, Earth magnetosphere, magnetotail, plasma sheet flows, oscillatory flows, burst bulk flows, tailward flows
National Category
Fusion, Plasma and Space Physics
Research subject
Space Physics; Space and Plasma Physics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-170347ISBN: 978-91-7855-290-0 (electronic)ISBN: 978-91-7855-289-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-170347DiVA, id: diva2:1428096
Public defence
2020-06-02, Umeå University, N360, Umeå, 09:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Posting sheet: Wrongly stated number of pages. Digital ISBN missing. 

Thesis: Lacking information regarding digital/print ISBN.

New location for the defence.

Available from: 2020-05-12 Created: 2020-05-04 Last updated: 2020-05-26Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Low-frequency oscillatory flow signatures and high-speed flows in the Earth's magnetotail
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Low-frequency oscillatory flow signatures and high-speed flows in the Earth's magnetotail
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2017 (English)In: Journal of Geophysical Research - Space Physics, ISSN 2169-9380, E-ISSN 2169-9402, Vol. 122, no 7, p. 7042-7056Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Using plasma sheet data from Cluster 1 spacecraft from 2001 till 2011, we statistically investigate oscillatory signatures in the plasma bulk flow. These periodic oscillations are compared to high-speed and quiet flows. Periodic oscillations are observed approximately 8% of the time, while high-speed flows and quiet flows are observed around 0.5% and 12% of the time, respectively. We remark that periodic oscillations can roughly occur everywhere for x(gsm) < -10 R-E and |y(gsm)| < 10 RE, while quiet flows mainly occur toward the flanks of this region and toward x = -10 R-E. The relation between the geomagnetic and solar activity and the occurrence of periodic oscillations is investigated and reveal that periodic oscillations occur for most Kp values and solar activity, while quiet flows are more common during low magnetospheric and solar activity. We find that the median oscillation frequency of periodic oscillations is 1.7 mHz and the median duration of the oscillation events is 41 min. We also observe that their associated Poynting vectors show a tendency to be earthward (S-x >= 0). Finally, the distribution of high-speed flows and periodic oscillations as a function of the velocity is investigated and reveals that thresholds lower than 200 km/s should not be used to identify high-speed flows as it could result in misinterpreting a periodic oscillations for a high-speed flow.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Washington: American Geophysical Union (AGU), 2017
Keywords
bursty bulk flows, plasma sheet, cluster observations, magnetic field, neutral sheet, magnetosphere, dependence, midtail
National Category
Fluid Mechanics and Acoustics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-139015 (URN)10.1002/2017JA024076 (DOI)000407627100008 ()
Funder
Swedish National Space Board, 271/14
Available from: 2017-09-14 Created: 2017-09-14 Last updated: 2020-05-04Bibliographically approved
2. Oscillatory Flows in the Magnetotail Plasma Sheet: Cluster Observations of the Distribution Function
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Oscillatory Flows in the Magnetotail Plasma Sheet: Cluster Observations of the Distribution Function
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2019 (English)In: Journal of Geophysical Research - Space Physics, ISSN 2169-9380, E-ISSN 2169-9402, Vol. 124, no 4, p. 2736-2754Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Plasma dynamics in Earth's magnetotail is often studied using moments of the distribution function, which results in losing information on the kinetic properties of the plasma. To better understand oscillatory flows observed in the midtail plasma sheet, we investigate two events, one in each hemisphere, in the transition region between the central plasma sheet and the lobes using the 2-D ion distribution function from the Cluster 4 spacecraft. In this case study, the oscillatory flows are a manifestation of repeated ion flux enhancements with pitch angle changing from 0 degrees to 180 degrees in the Northern Hemisphere and from 180 degrees to 0 degrees in the Southern Hemisphere. Similar pitch angle signatures are observed seven times in about 80 min for the Southern Hemisphere event and three times in about 80 min for the Northern Hemisphere event. The ion flux enhancements observed for both events are slightly shifted in time between different energy channels, indicating a possible time-of-flight effect from which we estimate that the source of particle is located similar to 5-25R(E) and similar to 40-107R(E) tailward of the spacecraft for the Southern and Northern Hemisphere event, respectively. Using a test particle simulation, we obtain similar to 21-46 R-E for the Southern Hemisphere event and tailward of X similar to - 65R(E) (outside the validity region of the model) for the Northern Hemisphere event. We discuss possible sources that could cause the enhancements of ion flux.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
AMER GEOPHYSICAL UNION, 2019
National Category
Fusion, Plasma and Space Physics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-162349 (URN)10.1029/2018JA026116 (DOI)000477707800027 ()
Available from: 2019-08-27 Created: 2019-08-27 Last updated: 2020-05-04Bibliographically approved
3. Oxygen Ion Flow Reversals in Earth's Magnetotail: A Cluster Statistical Study
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Oxygen Ion Flow Reversals in Earth's Magnetotail: A Cluster Statistical Study
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2019 (English)In: Journal of Geophysical Research - Space Physics, ISSN 2169-9380, E-ISSN 2169-9402, Vol. 124, no 11, p. 8928-8942Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We present a statistical study of magnetotail flows that change direction from earthward to tailward using Cluster spacecraft. More precisely, we study 318 events of particle flux enhancements in the O+ data for which the pitch angle continuously changes with time, either from 0 degrees to 180 degrees or from 180 degrees to 0 degrees. These structures are called "Pitch Angle Slope Structures" (PASSes). PASSes for which the pitch angle changes from 0 degrees to 180 degrees are observed in the Northern Hemisphere while those for which the pitch angle changes from 180 degrees to 0 degrees are observed in the Southern Hemisphere. These flux enhancements result in a reversal of the flow direction from earthward to tailward regardless of the hemisphere where they are observed. Sometimes, several PASSes can be observed consecutively which can therefore result in oscillatory velocity signatures in the earth-tail direction. The PASS occurrence rate increases from 1.8% to 3.7% as the AE index increases from similar to 0 to similar to 600 nT. Also, simultaneously to PASSes, there is typically a decrease in the magnetic field magnitude due to a decrease (increase) of the sunward component of the magnetic field in the Northern (Southern) Hemisphere. Finally, based on the 115 (out of 318) PASSes that show energy-dispersed structures, the distance to the source from the spacecraft is estimated to be typically R-E along the magnetic field line. This study is important as it sheds light on one of the causes of tailward velocities in Earth's magnetotail.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Wiley-Blackwell, 2019
Keywords
Earth's magnetotail, oxygen ions, velocity reversal, pitch angle distribution, Cluster, field aligned
National Category
Fusion, Plasma and Space Physics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-166575 (URN)10.1029/2019JA027054 (DOI)000497604100001 ()
Available from: 2019-12-19 Created: 2019-12-19 Last updated: 2020-05-04Bibliographically approved
4. In which magnetotail hemisphere is a satellite? Problems using in situ magnetic field data
Open this publication in new window or tab >>In which magnetotail hemisphere is a satellite? Problems using in situ magnetic field data
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Fusion, Plasma and Space Physics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-170346 (URN)
Available from: 2020-05-04 Created: 2020-05-04 Last updated: 2020-05-05
5. IMF B-y Influence on Magnetospheric Convection in Earth's Magnetotail Plasma Sheet
Open this publication in new window or tab >>IMF B-y Influence on Magnetospheric Convection in Earth's Magnetotail Plasma Sheet
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2019 (English)In: Geophysical Research Letters, ISSN 0094-8276, E-ISSN 1944-8007, Vol. 46, no 21, p. 11698-11708Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We use Geotail, Cluster, and Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms data over 15 years (1995–2009) to statistically investigate convective ion flows (Vxy<200 km/s) in the magnetotail plasma sheet under the influence of a clearly nonzero dawn‐dusk interplanetary magnetic field (IMF By). We find that IMF By causes an interhemispheric asymmetry in the flows, which depends on the direction of IMF By. On the average, one magnetic hemisphere is dominated by a dawn‐dusk flow component, which is oppositely directed compared to that in the other hemisphere. This asymmetry is observed for both earthward and tailward flows. A comparison to tail By reveals that the region where the asymmetry in the average flows appears agrees with the appearance of the tail By direction collinear to IMF By. The results imply that IMF By has a major influence on the direction of the magnetic flux transport in the magnetotail.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
American Geophysical Union (AGU), 2019
National Category
Fusion, Plasma and Space Physics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-165336 (URN)10.1029/2019GL084190 (DOI)000494963200001 ()
Available from: 2019-11-26 Created: 2019-11-26 Last updated: 2020-05-04Bibliographically approved

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De Spiegeleer, Alexandre

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