This content will become publicly available on March 1, 2024
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- The Astrophysical Journal
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- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Abstract In a collisionless shock the energy of the directed flow is converted to heating and acceleration of charged particles, and to magnetic compression. In low-Mach number shocks the downstream ion distribution is made of directly transmitted ions. In higher-Mach number shocks ion reflection is important. With the increase of the Mach number, rippling develops, which is expected to affect ion dynamics. Using ion tracing in a model shock front, downstream distributions of ions are analyzed and compared for a planar stationary shock with an overshoot and a similar shock with ripples propagating along the shock front. It is shown that rippling results in the distributions, which are substantially broader and more diffuse in the phase space. Gyrotropization is sped up. Rippling is able to generate backstreaming ions, which are absent in the planar stationary case.more » « less
The evolution of plasma entropy and the process of plasma energy redistribution at the collisionless plasma shock front are evaluated based on the high temporal resolution data from the four Magnetospheric Multiscale spacecraft during the crossing of the terrestrial bow shock. The ion distribution function has been separated into the populations with different characteristic behaviors in the vicinity of the shock: the upstream core population, the reflected ions, the gyrating ions, the ions trapped in the vicinity of the shock, and the downstream core population. The values of ion and electron moments (density, bulk velocity, and temperature) have been determined separately for these populations. It is shown that the solar wind core population bulk velocity slows down mainly in the ramp with the electrostatic potential increase but not in the foot region as it was supposed. The reflected ion population determines the foot region properties, so the proton temperature peak in the foot region is an effect of the relative motion of the different ion populations, rather than an actual increase in the thermal speed of any of the ion population. The ion entropy evaluated showed a significant increase across the shock: the enhancement of the ion entropy occurs in the foot of the shock front and at the ramp, where the reflected ions are emerging in addition to the upstream solar wind ions, the anisotropy growing to generate the bursts of ion-scale electrostatic waves. The entropy of electrons across the shock does not show a significant change: electron heating goes almost adiabatically.
A collisionless shock is a self-organized structure where fields and particle distributions are mutually adjusted to ensure a stable mass, momentum and energy transfer from the upstream to the downstream region. This adjustment may involve rippling, reformation or whatever else is needed to maintain the shock. The fields inside the shock front are produced due to the motion of charged particles, which is in turn governed by the fields. The overshoot arises due to the deceleration of the ion flow by the increasing magnetic field, so that the drop of the dynamic pressure should be compensated by the increase of the magnetic pressure. The role of the overshoot is to regulate ion reflection, thus properly adjusting the downstream ion temperature and kinetic pressure and also speeding up the collisionless relaxation and reducing the anisotropy of the eventually gyrotropized distributions.more » « less
Strong thermal emission velocity enhancement (STEVE) is an optical phenomenon of the subauroral ionosphere arising from extreme ion drift speeds. STEVE consists of two distinct components in true‐color imagery: a mauve or whitish arc extended in the magnetic east–west direction and a region of green emission adjacent to the arc, often structured into quasiperiodic columns aligned with the geomagnetic field (the “picket fence”). This work employs high‐resolution imagery by citizen scientists in a critical examination of fine‐scale features within the green emission region. Of particular interest are narrow “streaks” of emission forming underneath field‐aligned picket fence elements in the 100‐ to 110‐km altitude range. The streaks propagate in curved trajectories with dominant direction toward STEVE from the poleward side. The elongation is along the direction of motion, suggesting a drifting point‐like excitation source, with the apparent elongation due to a combination of motion blur and radiative lifetime effects. The cross‐sectional dimension is <1 km, and the cases observed have a duration of
∼20–30 s. The uniform coloration of all STEVE green features in these events suggests a common optical spectrum dominated by the oxygen 557.7‐nm emission line. The source is most likely direct excitation of ambient oxygen by superthermal electrons generated by ionospheric turbulence induced by the extreme electric fields driving STEVE. Some conjectures about causal connections with overlying field‐aligned structures are presented, based on coupling of thermal and gradient‐drift instabilities, with analogues to similar dynamics observed from chemical release and ionospheric heating experiments.
The current state of the art thermal particle measurements in the solar wind are insufficient to address many long standing, fundamental physical processes. The solar wind is a weakly collisional ionized gas experiencing collective effects due to long-range electromagnetic forces. Unlike a collisionally mediated fluid like Earth’s atmosphere, the solar wind is not in thermodynamic or thermal equilibrium. For that reason, the solar wind exhibits multiple particle populations for each particle species. We can mostly resolve the three major electron populations (e.g., core, halo, strahl, and superhalo) in the solar wind. For the ions, we can sometimes separate the proton core from a secondary proton beam and heavier ion species like alpha-particles. However, as the solar wind becomes cold or hot, our ability to separate these becomes more difficult. Instrumental limitations have prevented us from properly resolving features within each ion population. This destroys our ability to properly examine energy budgets across transient, discontinuous phenomena (e.g., shock waves) and the evolution of the velocity distribution functions. Herein we illustrate both the limitations of current instrumentation and why higher resolutions are necessary to properly address the fundamental kinetic physics of the solar wind. This is accomplished by directly comparing to some current solar wind observations with calculations of velocity moments to illustrate the inaccuracy and incompleteness of poor resolution data.more » « less