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.
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.
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- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
- DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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