Decay of Kelvin?Helmholtz Vortices at the Earth's Magnetopause Under Pure Southward IMF Conditions
ABSTRACT: Abstract At the Earth's low?latitude magnetopause, clear signatures of the Kelvin?Helmholtz (KH) waves have been frequently observed during periods of the northward interplanetary magnetic field (IMF), whereas these signatures have been much less frequently observed during the southward IMF. Here, we performed the first 3?D fully kinetic simulation of the magnetopause KH instability under the southward IMF condition. The simulation demonstrates that fast magnetic reconnection is induced at multiple locations along the vortex edge in an early nonlinear growth phase of the instability. The reconnection outflow jets significantly disrupt the flow of the nonlinear KH vortex, while the disrupted turbulent flow strongly bends and twists the reconnected field lines. The resulting coupling of the complex field and flow patterns within the magnetopause boundary layer leads to a quick decay of the vortex structure, which may explain the difference in the observation probability of KH waves between northward and southward IMF conditions. Key Points Three?dimensional fully kinetic simulation of Kelvin?Helmholtz instability at the Earth's magnetopause under the southward IMF condition is performed Fast reconnection causes a rapid decay of the nonlinear vortex structure in the early nonlinear growth phase of the instability The vortex decay can lead to a lower probability of observing magnetopause Kelvin?Helmholtz waves/vortices during southward IMF periods
Project description:On 5 May 2017, MMS observed a crater-type flux rope on the dawnside tailward magnetopause with fluctuations. The boundary-normal analysis shows that the fluctuations can be attributed to nonlinear Kelvin-Helmholtz (KH) waves. Reconnection signatures such as flow reversals and Joule dissipation were identified at the leading and trailing edges of the flux rope. In particular, strong northward electron jets observed at the trailing edge indicated midlatitude reconnection associated with the 3-D structure of the KH vortex. The scale size of the flux rope, together with reconnection signatures, strongly supports the interpretation that the flux rope was generated locally by KH vortex-induced reconnection. The center of the flux rope also displayed signatures of guide-field reconnection (out-of-plane electron jets, parallel electron heating, and Joule dissipation). These signatures indicate that an interface between two interlinked flux tubes was undergoing interaction, causing a local magnetic depression, resulting in an M-shaped crater flux rope, as supported by reconstruction.
Project description:Magnetic reconnection is believed to be the main driver to transport solar wind into the Earth's magnetosphere when the magnetopause features a large magnetic shear. However, even when the magnetic shear is too small for spontaneous reconnection, the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability driven by a super-Alfvénic velocity shear is expected to facilitate the transport. Although previous kinetic simulations have demonstrated that the non-linear vortex flows from the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability gives rise to vortex-induced reconnection and resulting plasma transport, the system sizes of these simulations were too small to allow the reconnection to evolve much beyond the electron scale as recently observed by the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft. Here, based on a large-scale kinetic simulation and its comparison with MMS observations, we show for the first time that ion-scale jets from vortex-induced reconnection rapidly decay through self-generated turbulence, leading to a mass transfer rate nearly one order higher than previous expectations for the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability.
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:Extended periods of northward interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) lead to the formation of a cold, dense plasma sheet due to the entry of solar wind plasma into the magnetosphere. Identifying the paths that the solar wind takes to enter the magnetosphere, and their relative importance has remained elusive. Any theoretical model of entry must satisfy observational constraints, such as the overall entry rate and the dawn-dusk asymmetry observed in the cold, dense plasma sheet. We model, using a combination of global magnetohydrodynamic and test particle simulations, solar wind ion entry into the magnetosphere during northward IMF and compare entry facilitated by the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability to cusp reconnection. For Kelvin-Helmholtz entry we reproduce transport rates inferred from observation and kinetic modeling and find that intravortex reconnection creates buoyant flux tubes, which provides, through interchange instability, a mechanism of filling the central plasma sheet with cold magnetosheath plasma. For cusp entry we show that an intrinsic dawn-dusk asymmetry is created during entry that is the result of alignment of the westward ion drift with the dawnward electric field typically observed during northward IMF. We show that both entry mechanisms provide comparable mass but affect entering plasma differently. The flank-entering plasma is cold and dawn-dusk symmetric, whereas the cusp-entering plasma is accelerated and preferentially deflected toward dawn. The combined effect of these entry mechanisms results in a plasma sheet population that exhibits dawn-dusk asymmetry in the manner that is seen in nature: a two-component (hot and cold) dusk flank and hotter, broadly peaked dawn population.
Project description:Ion-to-magnetohydrodynamic scale physics of the transverse velocity shear layer and associated Kelvin-Helmholtz instability (KHI) in a homogeneous, collisionless plasma are investigated by means of full particle simulations. The shear layer is broadened to reach a kinetic equilibrium when its initial thickness is close to the gyrodiameter of ions crossing the layer, namely, of ion-kinetic scale. The broadened thickness is larger in B⋅Ω<0 case than in B⋅Ω>0 case, where Ω is the vorticity at the layer. This is because the convective electric field, which points out of (into) the layer for B⋅Ω<0 (B⋅Ω>0), extends (reduces) the gyrodiameters. Since the kinetic equilibrium is established before the KHI onset, the KHI growth rate depends on the broadened thickness. In the saturation phase of the KHI, the ion vortex flow is strengthened (weakened) for B⋅Ω<0 (B⋅Ω>0), due to ion centrifugal drift along the rotational plasma flow. In ion inertial scale vortices, this drift effect is crucial in altering the ion vortex size. These results indicate that the KHI at Mercury-like ion-scale magnetospheric boundaries could show clear dawn-dusk asymmetries in both its linear and nonlinear growth.
Project description:The Vlasiator hybrid-Vlasov code was developed to investigate global magnetospheric dynamics at ion-kinetic scales. Here we focus on the role of magnetic reconnection in the formation and evolution of magnetic islands at the low-latitude magnetopause, under southward interplanetary magnetic field conditions. The simulation results indicate that (1) the magnetic reconnection ion kinetics, including the Earthward pointing Larmor electric field on the magnetospheric side of an X-point and anisotropic ion distributions, are well-captured by Vlasiator, thus enabling the study of reconnection-driven magnetic island evolution processes, (2) magnetic islands evolve due to continuous reconnection at adjacent X-points, "coalescence" which refers to the merging of neighboring islands to create a larger island, "erosion" during which an island loses magnetic flux due to reconnection, and "division" which involves the splitting of an island into smaller islands, and (3) continuous reconnection at adjacent X-points is the dominant source of magnetic flux and plasma to the outer layers of magnetic islands resulting in cross-sectional growth rates up to +?0.3 RE 2/min. The simulation results are compared to the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) measurements of a chain of ion-scale flux transfer events (FTEs) sandwiched between two dominant X-lines. The MMS measurements similarly reveal (1) anisotropic ion populations and (2) normalized reconnection rate ~0.18, in agreement with theory and the Vlasiator predictions. Based on the simulation results and the MMS measurements, it is estimated that the observed ion-scale FTEs may grow Earth-sized within ~10 min, which is comparable to the average transport time for FTEs formed in the subsolar region to the high-latitude magnetopause. Future simulations shall revisit reconnection-driven island evolution processes with improved spatial resolutions.
Project description:A distinct class of aurora, called transpolar auroral arc (TPA) (in some cases called "theta" aurora), appears in the extremely high-latitude ionosphere of the Earth when interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) is northward. The formation and evolution of TPA offers clues about processes transferring energy and momentum from the solar wind to the magnetosphere and ionosphere during a northward IMF. However, their formation mechanisms remain poorly understood and controversial. We report a mechanism identified from multiple-instrument observations of unusually bright, multiple TPAs and simulations from a high-resolution three-dimensional (3D) global MagnetoHydroDynamics (MHD) model. The observations and simulations show an excellent agreement and reveal that these multiple TPAs are generated by precipitating energetic magnetospheric electrons within field-aligned current (FAC) sheets. These FAC sheets are generated by multiple-flow shear sheets in both the magnetospheric boundary produced by Kelvin-Helmholtz instability between supersonic solar wind flow and magnetosphere plasma, and the plasma sheet generated by the interactions between the enhanced earthward plasma flows from the distant tail (less than -100 RE) and the enhanced tailward flows from the near tail (about -20 RE). The study offers insight into the complex solar wind-magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling processes under a northward IMF condition, and it challenges existing paradigms of the dynamics of the Earth's magnetosphere.
Project description:Particle image velocimetry has been the preferred experimental technique with which to study the aerodynamics of animal flight for over a decade. In that time, hardware has become more accessible and the software has progressed from the acquisition of planes through the flow field to the reconstruction of small volumetric measurements. Until now, it has not been possible to capture large volumes that incorporate the full wavelength of the aerodynamic track left behind during a complete wingbeat cycle. Here, we use a unique apparatus to acquire the first instantaneous wake volume of a flying animal's entire wingbeat. We confirm the presence of wake deformation behind desert locusts and quantify the effect of that deformation on estimates of aerodynamic force and the efficiency of lift generation. We present previously undescribed vortex wake phenomena, including entrainment around the wing-tip vortices of a set of secondary vortices borne of Kelvin-Helmholtz instability in the shear layer behind the flapping wings.
Project description:Kelvin-Helmholtz instability (KHI) is a basic physical process in fluids and magnetized plasmas, with applications successfully modelling e.g. exponentially growing instabilities observed at magnetospheric and heliospheric boundaries, in the solar or Earth's atmosphere and within astrophysical jets. Here, we report the discovery of the KHI in solar blowout jets and analyse the detailed evolution by employing high-resolution data from the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) satellite launched in 2013. The particular jet we focus on is rooted in the surrounding penumbra of the main negative polarity sunspot of Active Region 12365, where the main body of the jet is a super-penumbral structure. At its maximum, the jet has a length of 90?Mm, a width of 19.7?Mm, and its density is about 40 times higher than its surroundings. During the evolution of the jet, a cavity appears near the base of the jet, and bi-directional flows originated from the top and bottom of the cavity start to develop, indicating that magnetic reconnection takes place around the cavity. Two upward flows pass along the left boundary of the jet successively. Next, KHI develops due to a strong velocity shear (?204?km?s-1) between these two flows, and subsequently the smooth left boundary exhibits a sawtooth pattern, evidencing the onset of the instability.
Project description:We report on the first analysis of magnetospheric cusp observations at Saturn by multiple in situ instruments onboard the Cassini spacecraft. Using this we infer the process of reconnection was occurring at Saturn's magnetopause. This agrees with remote observations that showed the associated auroral signatures of reconnection. Cassini crossed the northern cusp around noon local time along a poleward trajectory. The spacecraft observed ion energy-latitude dispersions-a characteristic signature of the terrestrial cusp. This ion dispersion is "stepped," which shows that the reconnection is pulsed. The ion energy-pitch angle dispersions suggest that the field-aligned distance from the cusp to the reconnection site varies between ?27 and 51 R S . An intensification of lower frequencies of the Saturn kilometric radiation emissions suggests the prior arrival of a solar wind shock front, compressing the magnetosphere and providing more favorable conditions for magnetopause reconnection.We observe evidence for reconnection in the cusp plasma at SaturnWe present evidence that the reconnection process can be pulsed at SaturnSaturn's cusp shows similar characteristics to the terrestrial cusp.