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  1. Abstract

    The ion foreshock, filled with backstreaming foreshock ions, is very dynamic with many transient structures that disturb the bow shock and the magnetosphere‐ionosphere system. It has been shown that foreshock ions can be generated through either solar wind reflection at the bow shock or leakage from the magnetosheath. While solar wind reflection is widely believed to be the dominant generation process, our investigation using Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms mission observations reveals that the relative importance of magnetosheath leakage has been underestimated. We show from case studies that when the magnetosheath ions exhibit field‐aligned anisotropy, a large fraction of them attains sufficient field‐aligned speed to escape upstream, resulting in very high foreshock ion density. The observed foreshock ion density, velocity, phase space density, and distribution function shape are consistent with such an escape or leakage process. Our results suggest that magnetosheath leakage could be a significant contributor to the formation of the ion foreshock. Further characterization of the magnetosheath leakage process is a critical step toward building predictive models of the ion foreshock, a necessary step to better forecast foreshock‐driven space weather effects.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2025
  2. Abstract

    Shock waves are sites of intense plasma heating and charged particle acceleration. In collisionless solar wind plasmas, such acceleration is attributed to shock drift or Fermi acceleration but also to wave–particle resonant interactions. We examine the latter for the case of electrons interacting with one of the most commonly observed wave modes in shock environments, the whistler mode. Such waves are particularly intense in dynamic, localized regions upstream of shocks, arising from the kinetic interaction of the shock with solar wind discontinuities. These regions, known as foreshock transients, are also sites of significant electron acceleration by mechanisms not fully understood. Using in situ observations of such transients in the Earth’s foreshock, we demonstrate that intense whistler-mode waves can resonate nonlinearly with >25 eV solar wind electrons and accelerate them to ∼100–500 eV. This acceleration is mostly effective for the 50–250 eV energy range, where the accelerated electron population exhibits a characteristic butterfly pitch-angle distribution consistent with theoretical predictions. Such nonlinear resonant acceleration is very fast, implying that this mechanism may be important for injecting suprathermal electrons of solar wind origin into the shock region, where they can undergo further, efficient shock-drift acceleration to even higher energies.

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  3. Accepted, not yet published 
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  4. Abstract

    Thermalization and heating of plasma flows at shocks result in unstable charged-particle distributions that generate a wide range of electromagnetic waves. These waves, in turn, can further accelerate and scatter energetic particles. Thus, the properties of the waves and their implication for wave−particle interactions are critically important for modeling energetic particle dynamics in shock environments. Whistler-mode waves, excited by the electron heat flux or a temperature anisotropy, arise naturally near shocks and foreshock transients. As a result, they can often interact with suprathermal electrons. The low background magnetic field typical at the core of such transients and the large wave amplitudes may cause such interactions to enter the nonlinear regime. In this study, we present a statistical characterization of whistler-mode waves at foreshock transients around Earth’s bow shock, as they are observed under a wide range of upstream conditions. We find that a significant portion of them are sufficiently intense and coherent (narrowband) to warrant nonlinear treatment. Copious observations of background magnetic field gradients and intense whistler wave amplitudes suggest that phase trapping, a very effective mechanism for electron acceleration in inhomogeneous plasmas, may be the cause. We discuss the implications of our findings for electron acceleration in planetary and astrophysical shock environments.

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  5. Abstract

    In the ion foreshock, hot flow anomalies (HFAs) and foreshock bubbles (FBs) are two types of foreshock transients that have the strongest fluctuations, which can disturb the magnetosphere‐ionosphere system and increase shock acceleration efficiency. They form due to interaction between the foreshock ions and solar wind discontinuities: the direction of the foreshock ion‐driven current and whether it decreases or increases the magnetic field strength behind the discontinuity determine whether the transient's formation can be promoted or suppressed. Thus, to predict the HFA and FB formation and forecast their space weather effects, it is necessary to predict the foreshock ion‐driven current direction. In this study, we derive analytical equations of foreshock ion velocities within discontinuities to estimate foreshock ion‐driven current direction, which provides a quantitative criterion of HFA and FB formation. To validate the criterion, we use Acceleration Reconnection Turbulence & Electrodynamics of Moon's Interaction with the Sun to observe pristine solar wind discontinuities and calculate discontinuity parameters. We use Magnetospheric Multiscale to observe the foreshock ion motion around the discontinuities and show that the data support our model. This study is another step toward a predictive model of HFA and FB formation so that we can forecast their space weather effects at Earth using solar wind observations at lunar orbit or L1.

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  6. Abstract

    When a solar wind discontinuity interacts with foreshock ions, foreshock transients such as hot flow anomalies and foreshock bubbles can form. These create significant dynamic pressure perturbations disturbing the bow shock, magnetopause, and magnetosphere‐ionosphere system. However, presently these phenomena are not predictable. In the accompanying paper, we derived analytical equations of foreshock ion partial gyration around a discontinuity and the resultant current density. In this study, we utilize the derived current density strength to model the energy conversion from the foreshock ions, which drives the outward motion or expansion of the solar wind plasma away from the discontinuity. We show that the model expansion speeds match those from local hybrid simulations for varying foreshock ion parameters. Using MMS, we conduct a statistical study showing that the model expansion speeds are moderately correlated with the magnetic field strength variations and the dynamic pressure decreases around discontinuities with correlation coefficients larger than 0.5. We use conjunctions between ARTEMIS and MMS to show that the model expansion speeds are typically large for those already‐formed foreshock transients. Our results show that our model can be reasonably successful in predicting significant dynamic pressure disturbances caused by foreshock ion‐discontinuity interactions. We discuss ways to improve the model in the future.

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  7. null (Ed.)
    Mesoscale (on the scales of a few minutes and a few R E ) magnetosheath and magnetopause perturbations driven by foreshock transients have been observed in the flank magnetotail. In this paper, we present the 3D global hybrid simulation results to show qualitatively the 3D structure of the flank magnetopause distortion caused by foreshock transients and its impacts on the tail magnetosphere and the ionosphere. Foreshock transient perturbations consist of a low-density core and high-density edge(s), thus, after they propagate into the magnetosheath, they result in magnetosheath pressure perturbations that distort magnetopause. The magnetopause is distorted locally outward (inward) in response to the dip (peak) of the magnetosheath pressure perturbations. As the magnetosheath perturbations propagate tailward, they continue to distort the flank magnetopause. This qualitative explains the transient appearance of the magnetosphere observed in the flank magnetosheath associated with foreshock transients. The 3D structure of the magnetosheath perturbations and the shape of the distorted magnetopause keep evolving as they propagate tailward. The transient distortion of the magnetopause generates compressional magnetic field perturbations within the magnetosphere. The magnetopause distortion also alters currents around the magnetopause, generating field-aligned currents (FACs) flowing in and out of the ionosphere. As the magnetopause distortion propagates tailward, it results in localized enhancements of FACs in the ionosphere that propagate anti-sunward. This qualitatively explains the observed anti-sunward propagation of the ground magnetic field perturbations associated with foreshock transients. 
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