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Title: Magnetohydrodynamic Turbulence in the Earth’s Magnetotail From Observations and Global MHD Simulations
Magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) turbulent flows are found in the solar wind, the magnetosheath and the magnetotail plasma sheet. In this paper, we review both observational and theoretical evidence for turbulent flow in the magnetotail. MHD simulations of the global magnetosphere for southward interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) exhibit nested vortices in the earthward outflow from magnetic reconnection that are consistent with turbulence. Similar simulations for northward IMF also exhibit enhanced vorticity consistent with turbulence. These result from Kelvin-Helmholtz (KH) instabilities. However, the turbulent flows association with reconnection fill much of the magnetotail while the turbulent flows associated with the KH instability are limited to a smaller region near the magnetopause. Analyzing turbulent flows in the magnetotail is difficult because of the limited extent of the tail and because the flows there are usually sub-magnetosonic. Observational analysis of turbulent flows in the magnetotail usually assume that the Taylor frozen-in-flow hypothesis is valid and compare power spectral density vs. frequency with spectral indices derived for fluid turbulence by Kolmogorov in 1941. Global simulations carried out for actual magnetospheric substorms in the tail enable the results of the simulations to be compared directly with observed power spectra. The agreement between the two techniques provides confidence that the plasma sheet plasma is actually turbulent. The MHD results also allow us to calculate the power vs. wave number; results that also support the idea that the tail is turbulent.  more » « less
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Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences
Medium: X
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National Science Foundation
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