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  1. 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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  2. 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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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. Abstract

    Foreshock transients, including hot flow anomalies (HFAs) and foreshock bubbles (FBs), are frequently observed in the ion foreshock. Their significant dynamic pressure perturbations can disturb the bow shock, resulting in disturbances in the magnetosphere and ionosphere. They can also contribute to particle acceleration at their parent bow shock. These disturbances and particle acceleration caused by the foreshock transients are not yet predictable, however. In this study, we take the first step in establishing a first‐order predictive expansion speed model for FBs (which are simpler than HFAs). Starting with energy conversion from foreshock ions to solar wind ions, we derive the FB expansion speed in the FB's early formation stage and late expansion stage as a function of foreshock and solar wind parameters. We use local hybrid simulations with varying parameters to fit and improve the early stage model and 1D particle‐in‐cell simulations to test the late‐stage model. By comparing model results with Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) and Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS) observations, we adjust the late‐stage model and show that it can predict the FB expansion speed. Our study provides a foundation for predictive models of foreshock transient formation and expansion, so that we can eventually forecast their space weather effects and particle acceleration at shocks.

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  6. Abstract

    Hot flow anomalies (HFAs) and foreshock bubbles (FBs) are frequently observed in Earth's foreshock, which can significantly disturb the bow shock and therefore the magnetosphere‐ionosphere system and can accelerate particles. Previous statistical studies have identified the solar wind conditions (high solar wind speed and high Mach number, etc.) that favor their generation. However, backstreaming foreshock ions are expected to most directly control how HFAs and FBs form, whereas the solar wind may partake in the formation process indirectly by determining foreshock ion properties. Using Magnetospheric Multiscale mission and Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms mission, we perform a statistical study of foreshock ion properties around 275 HFAs and FBs. We show that foreshock ions with a high foreshock‐to‐solar wind density ratio (>∼3%), high kinetic energy (>∼600 eV), large ratio of kinetic energy to thermal energy (>∼0.1), and large ratio of perpendicular temperature to parallel temperature (>∼1.4) favor HFA and FB formation. We also examine how these properties are related to solar wind conditions: high solar wind speed and oblique bow shock (angle between the interplanetary magnetic field and the bow shock normal) favor high kinetic energy of foreshock ions; foreshock ions have large ratio of kinetic energy to thermal energy at large(>30°); small(<30°), high Mach number, and closeness to the bow shock favor a high foreshock‐to‐solar wind density ratio. Our results provide further understanding of HFA and FB formation.

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  7. Abstract

    Foreshock transients such as foreshock bubbles (FBs), hot flow anomalies (HFAs), and spontaneous hot flow anomalies (SHFAs) display heated, tenuous cores and large flow deflections bounded by compressional boundaries. THEMIS and Cluster observations show that some cores contain local density enhancements which can be studied to better understand the evolution processes of foreshock transients. However, closer examinations of these substructures were not feasible until the availability of the higher resolution data from the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission (MMS). We identify 164 FB‐like, HFA‐like, and SHFA events from two MMS dayside phases for a statistical study to investigate their solar wind conditions, properties, and substructure properties. Occurrence rates of the three event types are higher for lower magnetic field strengths, higher solar wind speeds and Mach numbers, and quasi‐parallel bow shocks. Events usually span up to 3REalong the bow shock surface and extend up to 6REupstream from the bow shock. Though events with and without substructures exhibit similar solar wind conditions, events with substructures are more likely to have longer core durations and larger sizes. Substructure densities display a positive correlation with bulk flows and a negative correlation with temperatures. Substructure sizes vary between 4 and 24 ion inertial lengths, indicating multiple formation mechanisms. Substructures could be the boundary between two foreshock transient events that have merged into a single event, fast‐mode variations, generated by slow or mirror mode instabilities, or produced from instabilities due to parameter gradients at the compressional boundaries or shocks.

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  8. Abstract

    In Earth’s foreshock, there are many foreshock transients that have core regions with low field strength, low density, high temperature, and bulk velocity variation. Through dynamic pressure perturbations, they can disturb the magnetosphere–ionosphere system. They can also accelerate particles contributing to particle acceleration at the bow shock. Recent Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission observations showed that inside the low field strength core region, there are usually kinetic‐scale magnetic holes with even lower field strength (<1 nT). However, their nature and effects are unknown. In this study, we used MMS observations to conduct case studies on these magnetic holes. We found that they could be subion‐scale current sheets without a magnetic normal component and guide field, driven by the motion of demagnetized electrons. These magnetic holes can also be subion‐scale flux ropes or magnetic helical structures with weak axial field. The low field strength inside them can be either driven by external expansion or electron mirror mode. Electrons inside them show flux depletion at 90° pitch angle resulting in an “electron hole” distribution. These magnetic holes can play a role in electron dynamics, wave excitation, and shaping the foreshock transient structures. Our detailed study of such features sheds light on the turbulent nature of foreshock transient cores.

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  9. Abstract

    Foreshock bubbles (FBs) have been observed upstream of solar wind tangential discontinuities (TDs). A hypothesized mechanism is that foreshock ions with gyroradii larger than the TD thickness may move to upstream side of TDs and generate FBs. In this study, we present the very first three‐dimensional global hybrid simulation of an FB driven by a TD. After the TD encounters the ion foreshock, plasma and magnetic field perturbations are generated upstream of the TD. These perturbations are characteristically consistent with the observed TD‐driven FBs, confirming that TDs can form FBs. We further analyze the initial perpendicular temperature increase initiating the FB and compare the temperature structure with that from tracing test‐particles in static TD electric and magnetic fields. The structure can be explained by the perpendicular velocity change of foreshock ions with large gyroradii as they encounter the magnetic field direction change across the TD, which supports the hypothesized mechanism.

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  10. Abstract

    In the dayside foreshock, many foreshock transients have been observed and simulated. Because of their strong dynamic pressure perturbations, foreshock transients can disturb the local bow shock, magnetosheath, magnetopause, and thus the magnetosphere‐ionosphere system. They can also accelerate particles contributing to shock acceleration. Recent observations and simulations showed that foreshock transients also exist in the midtail foreshock, which can continuously disturb the nightside bow shock, magnetosheath, and magnetopause while propagating tailward for tens of minutes. To further understand the characteristics of midtail foreshock transients, we studied them statistically using Acceleration Reconnection Turbulence & Electrodynamics of Moon’s Interaction with the Sun observations. We selected 111 events that have dynamic pressure decrease along the local bow shock normal by more than 50%. We show that the dynamic pressure decrease is contributed by both density decrease and speed decrease. Around 90% of the events have electron temperature increase by more than 10% with a temperature change ratio proportional to the solar wind speed. Midtail foreshock transients more likely occur at the dawnside than the duskside. They are more significant closer to the bow shock and rather stable along the tailward direction. They have similar formation conditions compared to the dayside foreshock transients, except the ones related to the bow shock geometry. Our study indicates that the characteristics of foreshock transients based on dayside observations need to be generalized. Our study also implies that foreshock transients can exist for tens of minutes (even longer for larger planar shocks), continuously disturbing the local shock and accelerating/heating particles.

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