A Dynamic Model of Mercury's Magnetospheric Magnetic Field.
ABSTRACT: Mercury's solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field environment is highly dynamic, and variations in these external conditions directly control the current systems and magnetic fields inside the planetary magnetosphere. We update our previous static model of Mercury's magnetic field by incorporating variations in the magnetospheric current systems, parameterized as functions of Mercury's heliocentric distance and magnetic activity. The new, dynamic model reproduces the location of the magnetopause current system as a function of systematic pressure variations encountered during Mercury's eccentric orbit, as well as the increase in the cross-tail current intensity with increasing magnetic activity. Despite the enhancements in the external field parameterization, the residuals between the observed and modeled magnetic field inside the magnetosphere indicate that the dynamic model achieves only a modest overall improvement over the previous static model. The spatial distribution of the residuals in the magnetic field components shows substantial improvement of the model accuracy near the dayside magnetopause. Elsewhere, the large-scale distribution of the residuals is similar to those of the static model. This result implies either that magnetic activity varies much faster than can be determined from the spacecraft's passage through the magnetosphere or that the residual fields are due to additional external current systems not represented in the model or both. Birkeland currents flowing along magnetic field lines between the magnetosphere and planetary high-latitude regions have been identified as one such contribution.
Project description:Accurate knowledge of Mercury's magnetospheric magnetic field is required to understand the sources of the planet's internal field. We present the first model of Mercury's magnetospheric magnetic field confined within a magnetopause shape derived from Magnetometer observations by the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging spacecraft. The field of internal origin is approximated by a dipole of magnitude 190?nT <i>R<sub>M</sub></i><sup>3</sup>, where <i>R<sub>M</sub></i> is Mercury's radius, offset northward by 479?km along the spin axis. External field sources include currents flowing on the magnetopause boundary and in the cross-tail current sheet. The cross-tail current is described by a disk-shaped current near the planet and a sheet current at larger (??5?<i>R<sub>M</sub></i> ) antisunward distances. The tail currents are constrained by minimizing the root-mean-square (RMS) residual between the model and the magnetic field observed within the magnetosphere. The magnetopause current contributions are derived by shielding the field of each module external to the magnetopause by minimizing the RMS normal component of the magnetic field at the magnetopause. The new model yields improvements over the previously developed paraboloid model in regions that are close to the magnetopause and the nightside magnetic equatorial plane. Magnetic field residuals remain that are distributed systematically over large areas and vary monotonically with magnetic activity. Further advances in empirical descriptions of Mercury's magnetospheric external field will need to account for the dependence of the tail and magnetopause currents on magnetic activity and additional sources within the magnetosphere associated with Birkeland currents and plasma distributions near the dayside magnetopause.
Project description:Saturn's magnetic field acts as an obstacle to solar wind flow, deflecting plasma around the planet and forming a cavity known as the magnetosphere. The magnetopause defines the boundary between the planetary and solar dominated regimes, and so is strongly influenced by the variable nature of pressure sources both outside and within. Following from Pilkington et al. (2014), crossings of the magnetopause are identified using 7 years of magnetic field and particle data from the Cassini spacecraft and providing unprecedented spatial coverage of the magnetopause boundary. These observations reveal a dynamical interaction where, in addition to the external influence of the solar wind dynamic pressure, internal drivers, and hot plasma dynamics in particular can take almost complete control of the system's dayside shape and size, essentially defying the solar wind conditions. The magnetopause can move by up to 10-15 planetary radii at constant solar wind dynamic pressure, corresponding to relatively "plasma-loaded" or "plasma-depleted" states, defined in terms of the internal suprathermal plasma pressure.
Project description:Monochromatic all-sky imagers at South Pole and other Antarctic stations of the Automatic Geophysical Observatory chain recorded the aurora in the region where the Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS) satellites crossed the dayside magnetopause. In several cases the magnetic field lines threading the satellites when mapped to the atmosphere were inside the imagers' field of view. From the THEMIS magnetic field and the plasma density measurements, we were able to locate the position of the magnetopause crossings and map it to the ionosphere using the Tsyganenko-96 field model. Field line mapping is reasonably accurate on the dayside subsolar region where the field is strong, almost dipolar even though compressed. From these coordinated observations, we were able to prove that the dayside cusp aurora of high 630?nm brightness is on open field lines, and it is therefore direct precipitation from the magnetosheath. The cusp aurora contained significant highly structured N2+ 427.8?nm emission. The THEMIS measurements of the magnetosheath particle energy and density taken just outside the magnetopause compared to the intensity of the structured N2+ 427.8?nm emissions showed that the precipitating magnetosheath particles had to be accelerated. The most likely electron acceleration mechanism is by dispersive Alfvén waves propagating along the field line. Wave-accelerated suprathermal electrons were seen by FAST and DMSP. The 427.8?nm wavelength channel also shows the presence of a lower latitude hard-electron precipitation zone originating inside the magnetosphere.
Project description:Magnetic reconnection is believed to be the dominant process by which solar wind plasma enters the magnetosphere. However, for periods of northward interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) reconnection is less likely at the dayside magnetopause, and Kelvin-Helmholtz waves (KHWs) may be important agents for plasma entry and for the excitation of ultra-low-frequency (ULF) waves. The relative importance of KHWs is controversial because no statistical data on their occurrence frequency exist. Here we survey 7 years of in situ data from the NASA THEMIS (Time History of Events and Macro scale Interactions during Substorms) mission and find that KHWs occur at the magnetopause ?19% of the time. The rate increases with solar wind speed, Alfven Mach number and number density, but is mostly independent of IMF magnitude. KHWs may thus be more important for plasma transport across the magnetopause than previously thought, and frequently drive magnetospheric ULF waves.
Project description:The discovery of Mercury's unusually axisymmetric, anomalously axially offset dipolar magnetic field reveals a new regime of planetary magnetic fields. The cause of the offset dipole remains to be resolved, although some exotic models have been proposed. Deciphering why Mercury has such an anomalous field is crucial not only for understanding the internal dynamics, evolutionary history and origin of the planet, but also for establishing the general dynamo theory. Here we present numerical dynamo models, where core convection is driven as thermo-compositional, double-diffusive convection surrounded by a thermally stably stratified layer. We show that the present models produce magnetic fields similar in morphology and strength to that of Mercury. The dynamo-generated fields act on the flow to force interaction between equatorially symmetric and antisymmetric components that results in north-south asymmetric helicity. This symmetry-breaking magnetic feedback causes the flow to generate and maintain Mercury's axially offset dipolar field.
Project description:Abstract In this study, the ion composition of flux transfer events (FTEs) observed within the magnetosheath proper is examined. These FTEs were observed just upstream of the Earth's postnoon magnetopause by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft constellation. The minor ion characteristics are described using energy spectrograms, flux distributions, and ion moments as the constellation encountered each FTE. In conjunction with electron data and magnetic field observations, such observations provide important contextual information on the formation, topologies, and evolution of FTEs. In particular, minor ions, when combined with the field?aligned streaming of electrons, are reliable indicators of FTE topology. The observations are also placed (i) in context of the solar wind magnetic field configuration, (ii) the connection of the sampled flux tube to the ionosphere, and (iii) the location relative to the modeled reconnection line at the magnetopause. While protons and alpha particles were often depleted within the FTEs relative to the surrounding magnetosheath plasma, the He+ and O+ populations showed clear enhancements either near the center or near the edges of the FTE, and the bulk plasma flow directions are consistent with magnetic reconnection northward of the spacecraft and convection from the dayside toward the flank magnetopause. Key Points Long?duration magnetosheath FTEs observed under at postnoon local times and under similar solar wind conditions are compared and contrasted Minor ions from the magnetosphere are observed at higher energies at the edges than at the center of the FTEs The cores of the magnetosheath FTEs are on closed field lines
Project description:The interaction between Earth's magnetic field and the solar wind results in the formation of a collisionless bow shock 60,000-100,000?km upstream of our planet, as long as the solar wind fast magnetosonic Mach (hereafter Mach) number exceeds unity. Here, we present one of those extremely rare instances, when the solar wind Mach number reached steady values <1 for several hours on 17 January 2013. Simultaneous measurements by more than ten spacecraft in the near-Earth environment reveal the evanescence of the bow shock, the sunward motion of the magnetopause and the extremely rapid and intense loss of electrons in the outer radiation belt. This study allows us to directly observe the state of the inner magnetosphere, including the radiation belts during a type of solar wind-magnetosphere coupling which is unusual for planets in our solar system but may be common for close-in extrasolar planets.
Project description:The outer radiation belt consists of relativistic (>0.5?MeV) electrons trapped on closed trajectories around Earth where the magnetic field is nearly dipolar. During increased geomagnetic activity, electron intensities in the belt can vary by orders of magnitude at different spatial and temporal scales. The main phase of geomagnetic storms often produces deep depletions of electron intensities over broad regions of the outer belt. Previous studies identified three possible processes that can contribute to the main-phase depletions: adiabatic inflation of electron drift orbits caused by the ring current growth, electron loss into the atmosphere, and electron escape through the magnetopause boundary. In this paper we investigate the relative importance of the adiabatic effect and magnetopause loss to the rapid depletion of the outer belt observed at the Van Allen Probes spacecraft during the main phase of 17 March 2013 storm. The intensities of >1?MeV electrons were depleted by more than an order of magnitude over the entire radial extent of the belt in less than 6?h after the sudden storm commencement. For the analysis we used three-dimensional test particle simulations of global evolution of the outer belt in the Tsyganenko-Sitnov (TS07D) magnetic field model with an inductive electric field. Comparison of the simulation results with electron measurements from the Magnetic Electron Ion Spectrometer experiment shows that magnetopause loss accounts for most of the observed depletion at L>5, while at lower L shells the depletion is adiabatic. Both magnetopause loss and the adiabatic effect are controlled by the change in global configuration of the magnetic field due to storm time development of the ring current; a simulation of electron evolution without a ring current produces a much weaker depletion.
Project description:Quark nuggets are theoretical objects composed of approximately equal numbers of up, down, and strange quarks and are also called strangelets and nuclearites. They have been proposed as a candidate for dark matter, which constitutes ~85% of the universe's mass and which has been a mystery for decades. Previous efforts to detect quark nuggets assumed that the nuclear-density core interacts directly with the surrounding matter so the stopping power is minimal. Tatsumi found that quark nuggets could well exist as a ferromagnetic liquid with a ~1012-T magnetic field. We find that the magnetic field produces a magnetopause with surrounding plasma, as the earth's magnetic field produces a magnetopause with the solar wind, and substantially increases their energy deposition rate in matter. We use the magnetopause model to compute the energy deposition as a function of quark-nugget mass and to analyze testing the quark-nugget hypothesis for dark matter by observations in air, water, and land. We conclude the water option is most promising.
Project description:New Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) observations of small-scale (~7 ion inertial length radius) flux transfer events (FTEs) at the dayside magnetopause are reported. The 10?km MMS tetrahedron size enables their structure and properties to be calculated using a variety of multispacecraft techniques, allowing them to be identified as flux ropes, whose flux content is small (~22?kWb). The current density, calculated using plasma and magnetic field measurements independently, is found to be filamentary. Intercomparison of the plasma moments with electric and magnetic field measurements reveals structured non-frozen-in ion behavior. The data are further compared with a particle-in-cell simulation. It is concluded that these small-scale flux ropes, which are not seen to be growing, represent a distinct class of FTE which is generated on the magnetopause by secondary reconnection.