Oscillatory Flows in the Magnetotail Plasma Sheet: Cluster Observations of the Distribution Function

Academic Article


  • AbstractPlasma 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° to 180° in the Northern Hemisphere and from 180° to 0° 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 ∼5–25RE and ∼40–107RE tailward of the spacecraft for the Southern and Northern Hemisphere event, respectively. Using a test particle simulation, we obtain ∼21–46 RE for the Southern Hemisphere event and tailward of X∼ − 65RE (outside the validity region of the model) for the Northern Hemisphere event. We discuss possible sources that could cause the enhancements of ion flux.
  • Authors

  • De Spiegeleer, A
  • Hamrin, M
  • Gunell, H
  • Volwerk, M
  • Andersson, L
  • Karlsson, T
  • Pitkanen, T
  • Mouikis, Christoforos
  • Nilsson, H
  • Kistler, Lynn
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • April 2019
  • Published In


  • Clinical Research
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 2736
  • End Page

  • 2754
  • Volume

  • 124
  • Issue

  • 4