213 results found
Dandouras I, Taylor MGGT, De Keyser J, et al., 2023, Space plasma physics science opportunities for the lunar orbital platform - Gateway, Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences, Vol: 10
<jats:p>The Lunar Orbital Platform - Gateway (LOP - Gateway, or simply Gateway) is a crewed platform that will be assembled and operated in the vicinity of the Moon by NASA and international partner organizations, including ESA, starting from the mid-2020s. It will offer new opportunities for fundamental and applied scientific research. The Moon is a unique location to study the deep space plasma environment. Moreover, the lunar surface and the surface-bounded exosphere are interacting with this environment, constituting a complex multi-scale interacting system. This paper examines the opportunities provided by externally mounted payloads on the Gateway in the field of space plasma physics, heliophysics and space weather, and also examines the impact of the space environment on an inhabited platform in the vicinity of the Moon. It then presents the conceptual design of a model payload, required to perform these space plasma measurements and observations. It results that the Gateway is very well-suited for space plasma physics research. It allows a series of scientific objectives with a multi-disciplinary dimension to be addressed.</jats:p>
Krasnoselskikh V, Tsurutani BT, Dudok de Wit T, et al., 2023, ICARUS: in-situ studies of the solar corona beyond Parker Solar Probe and Solar Orbiter, Experimental Astronomy, Vol: 54, Pages: 277-315, ISSN: 0922-6435
The primary scientific goal of ICARUS (Investigation of Coronal AcceleRation and heating of solar wind Up to the Sun), a mother-daughter satellite mission, proposed in response to the ESA “Voyage 2050” Call, will be to determine how the magnetic field and plasma dynamics in the outer solar atmosphere give rise to the corona, the solar wind, and the entire heliosphere. Reaching this goal will be a Rosetta Stone step, with results that are broadly applicable within the fields of space plasma physics and astrophysics. Within ESA’s Cosmic Vision roadmap, these science goals address Theme 2: “How does the Solar System work?” by investigating basic processes occurring “From the Sun to the edge of the Solar System”. ICARUS will not only advance our understanding of the plasma environment around our Sun, but also of the numerous magnetically active stars with hot plasma coronae. ICARUS I will perform the first direct in situ measurements of electromagnetic fields, particle acceleration, wave activity, energy distribution, and flows directly in the regions in which the solar wind emerges from the coronal plasma. ICARUS I will have a perihelion altitude of 1 solar radius and will cross the region where the major energy deposition occurs. The polar orbit of ICARUS I will enable crossing the regions where both the fast and slow winds are generated. It will probe the local characteristics of the plasma and provide unique information about the physical processes involved in the creation of the solar wind. ICARUS II will observe this region using remote-sensing instruments, providing simultaneous, contextual information about regions crossed by ICARUS I and the solar atmosphere below as observed by solar telescopes. It will thus provide bridges for understanding the magnetic links between the heliosphere and the solar atmosphere. Such information is crucial to our understanding of the plasma physics and electrodynamics of the solar atmosph
Maffei S, Eggington JWB, Livermore PW, et al., 2023, Climatological predictions of the auroral zone locations driven by moderate and severe space weather events, Scientific Reports, Vol: 13, Pages: 1-11, ISSN: 2045-2322
Auroral zones are regions where, in an average sense, aurorae due to solar activity are most likely spotted. Their shape and, similarly, the geographical locations most vulnerable to extreme space weather events (which we term ‘danger zones’) are modulated by Earth’s time-dependent internal magnetic field whose structure changes on yearly to decadal timescales. Strategies for mitigating ground-based space weather impacts over the next few decades can benefit from accurate forecasts of this evolution. Existing auroral zone forecasts use simplified assumptions of geomagnetic field variations. By harnessing the capability of modern geomagnetic field forecasts based on the dynamics of Earth’s core we estimate the evolution of the auroral zones and of the danger zones over the next 50 years. Our results predict that space-weather related risk will not change significantly in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Mid-to-high latitude cities such as Edinburgh, Copenhagen and Dunedin will remain in high-risk regions. However, northward change of the auroral and danger zones over North America will likely cause urban centres such as Edmonton and Labrador City to be exposed by 2070 to the potential impact of severe solar activity.
Koehn G, Desai R, Davies E, et al., 2022, Successive interacting coronal mass ejections: How to create a perfect storm?, The Astrophysical Journal: an international review of astronomy and astronomical physics, Vol: 941, ISSN: 0004-637X
Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are the largest type of eruptions on the Sun and the main driver of severe space weather at the Earth. In this study, we implement a force-free spheromak CME description within 3D magnetohydrodynamic simulations to parametrically evaluate successive interacting CMEs within a representative heliosphere. We explore CME–CME interactions for a range of orientations, launch time variations, and CME handedness and quantify their geo-effectiveness via the primary solar wind variables and empirical measures of the disturbance storm time index and subsolar magnetopause standoff distance. We show how the interaction of two moderate CMEs between the Sun and the Earth can translate into extreme conditions at the Earth and how CME–CME interactions at different radial distances can maximize different solar wind variables that induce different geophysical impacts. In particular, we demonstrate how the orientation and handedness of a given CME can have a significant impact on the conservation and loss of magnetic flux, and consequently Bz, due to magnetic reconnection with the interplanetary magnetic field. This study thus implicates the identification of CME chirality in the solar corona as an early diagnostic for forecasting geomagnetic storms involving multiple CMEs.
Eggington J, Coxon J, Shore R, et al., 2022, Response timescales of the magnetotail current sheet during a geomagnetic storm: global MHD simulations, Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences, Vol: 9, Pages: 1-17, ISSN: 2296-987X
The response of the Earth’s magnetotail current sheet to the external solar wind driver is highly time-dependent and asymmetric. For example, the current sheet twists in response to variations in the By component of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF), and is hinged by the dipole tilt. Understanding the timescales over which these asymmetries manifest is of particular importance during geomagnetic storms when the dynamics of the tail control substorm activity. To investigate this, we use the Gorgon MHD model to simulate a geomagnetic storm which commenced on 3 May 2014, and was host to multiple By and Bz reversals and a prolonged period of southward IMF driving. We find that the twisting of the current sheet is well-correlated to IMF By throughout the event, with the angle of rotation increasing linearly with downtail distance and being morepronounced when the tail contains less open flux. During periods of southward IMF the twisting of the central current sheet responds most strongly at a timelag of ∼ 100 min for distances beyond 20 RE, consistent with the 1-2 hr convection timescale identified in the open flux content. Under predominantly northward IMF the response of the twisting is bimodal, with the strongest correlations between 15-40 RE downtail being at a shorter timescale of ∼ 30 min consistent with that estimated for induced By due to wave propagation, compared to a longer timescale of ∼ 3 hr further downtail again attributed to convection. This indicates that asymmetries in the magnetotail communicated by IMF By are influenced mostly by global convection during strong solar wind driving, but that more prompt induced By effects can dominate in the near-Earth tail and during periods of weaker driving. These results provide new insight into the characteristic timescales of solar wind-magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling.
Smith AW, Forsyth C, Rae IJ, et al., 2022, On the considerations of using near real time data for space weather hazard forecasting, Space Weather, Vol: 20, ISSN: 1542-7390
Space weather represents a severe threat to ground-based infrastructure, satellites and communications. Accurately forecasting when such threats are likely (e.g., when we may see large induced currents) will help to mitigate the societal and financial costs. In recent years computational models have been created that can forecast hazardous intervals, however they generally use post-processed “science” solar wind data from upstream of the Earth. In this work we investigate the quality and continuity of the data that are available in Near-Real-Time (NRT) from the Advanced Composition Explorer and Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft. In general, the data available in NRT corresponds well with post-processed data, however there are three main areas of concern: greater short-term variability in the NRT data, occasional anomalous values and frequent data gaps. Some space weather models are able to compensate for these issues if they are also present in the data used to fit (or train) the model, while others will require extra checks to be implemented in order to produce high quality forecasts. We find that the DSCOVR NRT data are generally more continuous, though they have been available for small fraction of a solar cycle and therefore DSCOVR has experienced a limited range of solar wind conditions. We find that short gaps are the most common, and are most frequently found in the plasma data. To maximize forecast availability we suggest the implementation of limited interpolation if possible, for example, for gaps of 5 min or less, which could increase the fraction of valid input data considerably.
Phan TD, Verniero JL, Larson D, et al., 2022, Parker solar probe observations of solar wind energetic proton beams produced by magnetic reconnection in the near‐sun heliospheric current sheet, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol: 49, ISSN: 0094-8276
We report observations of reconnection exhausts in the Heliospheric Current Sheet (HCS) during Parker Solar Probe Encounters 08 and 07, at 16 Rs and 20 Rs, respectively. Heliospheric current sheet (HCS) reconnection accelerated protons to almost twice the solar wind speed and increased the proton core energy by a factor of ∼3, due to the Alfvén speed being comparable to the solar wind flow speed at these near-Sun distances. Furthermore, protons were energized to super-thermal energies. During E08, energized protons were found to have leaked out of the exhaust along separatrix field lines, appearing as field-aligned energetic proton beams in a broad region outside the HCS. Concurrent dropouts of strahl electrons, indicating disconnection from the Sun, provide further evidence for the HCS being the source of the beams. Around the HCS in E07, there were also proton beams but without electron strahl dropouts, indicating that their origin was not the local HCS reconnection exhaust.
Eggington J, Desai R, Mejnertsen L, et al., 2022, Time-varying magnetopause reconnection during sudden commencement: global MHD simulations, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol: 127, ISSN: 2169-9380
In response to a solar wind dynamic pressure enhancement, the compression of the magnetosphere generates strong ionospheric signatures and a sharp variation in the ground magnetic field, termed sudden commencement (SC). Whilst such compressions have also been associated with a contraction of the ionospheric polar cap due to the triggering of reconnection in the magnetotail, the effect of any changes in dayside reconnection is less clear and is a key component in fully understanding the system response. In this study we explore the time-dependent nature of dayside coupling during SC by performing global simulations using the Gorgon MHD code, and impact the magnetosphere with a series of interplanetary shocks with different parameters. We identify the location and evolu tion of the reconnection region in each case as the shock propagates through the magnetosphere, finding strong enhancement in the dayside reconnection rate and prompt expansion of the dayside polar cap prior to the eventual triggering of tail reconnection. This effect pervades for a variety of IMF orientations, and the reconnection rate is most enhanced for events with higher dynamic pressure. We explain this by repeating the simulations with a large explicit resistivity, showing that compression of the magnetosheath plasma near the propagating shock front allows for reconnection of much greater intensity and at different locations on the dayside magnetopause than during typical solar wind conditions. The results indicate that the dynamic behaviour of dayside coupling may render steady models of reconnection inaccurate during the onset of a severe space weather event.
Adhikari S, Shay MA, Parashar TN, et al., 2022, Reconnection and Turbulence: A Qualitative Approach to their Relationship
<jats:p>&lt;p&gt;Over the past few decades, the relationship between turbulence and reconnection has emerged as a subject of interest. For example, various properties of reconnection have been studied in different turbulent environments using plasma simulations. In other approaches, reconnection is studied as a subsidiary process occurring in turbulence. Turbulent features are also studied as consequences of instabilities associated with large scale reconnection. Only recently, we have attempted to answer some of the fundamental questions such as: &amp;#8220;What are the turbulent-like features of laminar magnetic reconnection?&amp;#8221;, &quot;Is magnetic reconnection fundamentally an energy cascade?&quot; both related to the interplay between reconnection and turbulence. Using 2.5D particle in cell simulations, we have found that laminar magnetic reconnection in a quasi-steady phase exhibits a Kolmogorov-like power spectrum. Most notably, the energy transfer process in magnetic reconnection is also found to be similar to that of a turbulent system suggesting that reconnection involves an energy cascade. The reconnection rate is correlated to both the magnetic energy spectrum in the ion-scales and the cascade of energy. Further, similarities between reconnection and turbulence in terms of the electric field spectrum, their components, and pressure-strain interaction will be highlighted.&lt;/p&gt;</jats:p>
Stawarz JE, Eastwood JP, Phan T, et al., 2022, Turbulence-driven magnetic reconnection and the magnetic correlation length in collisionless plasma turbulence
<jats:p>&lt;p&gt;&lt;span&gt;Observations of Earth&amp;#8217;s magnetosheath from the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission have provided an unprecedented opportunity to examine the detailed structure of the multitude of thin current sheets that are generated by plasma turbulence, revealing that a novel form of magnetic reconnection, which has come to be known as electron-only reconnection, can occur within magnetosheath turbulence. These electron-only reconnection events occur at thin electron-scale current sheets and have super-Alfv&amp;#233;nic electron jets that can approach the electron Alfv&amp;#233;n speed; however, they do not appear to have signatures of ion jets. It is thought that electron-only reconnection can occur when the length of the reconnecting current sheets along the outflow direction is short enough that the ions cannot fully couple to the newly reconnected magnetic field lines before they fully relax. In this work, we examine how the correlation length of the magnetic fluctuations in a turbulent plasma, which constrains the length of the current sheets that can be formed by the turbulence, impacts the nature of turbulence-driven magnetic reconnection. Using observations from MMS, we systematically examine 60 intervals of magnetosheath turbulence &amp;#8211; identifying 256 small-scale reconnection events, both with and without ion jets. We demonstrate that the properties of the reconnection events transition to become more consistent with electron-only reconnection when the magnetic correlation length of the turbulence is below ~20 ion inertial lengths. We further discuss the implications of the results in the context of other turbulent plasmas by considering observations of turbulent fluctuations in the solar wind. &lt;br&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/p&gt;</jats:p>
Robertson S, Eastwood J, Stawarz J, et al., 2022, Survey of EDR-associated Magnetopause Flux Ropes with MMS
<jats:p>&lt;p&gt;Flux ropes are twisted magnetic field structures produced during magnetic reconnection. They are thought to be important for energy transport and particle acceleration and are commonly observed throughout space plasma environments, including at the Earth&amp;#8217;s magnetopause. Flux Transfer Events (FTEs), which typically contain flux ropes, have been observed to grow in size and flux content as they are convected over the magnetopause and into the magnetotail, contributing to flux transport in the Dungey cycle. More recently, small-scale flux ropes have been observed inside the Electron Diffusion Region (EDR) during magnetopause reconnection.&amp;#160;&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;&lt;br&gt;In this study, we investigate the link between the EDR and flux ropes, presenting a survey of 245 flux ropes observed by the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission on days during which the spacecraft also encountered the EDR. MMS measures the thermal electron and ion 3D distributions at 30 msec and 150 msec time resolution, respectively, and at spacecraft separations down to a few kilometres allowing the study of such electron-scale phenomena. We find that flux ropes are more likely to be observed closer to the EDR, and that flux ropes observed closer to the EDR tend to have greater axial magnetic field strength and therefore greater flux content. We suggest that we could be sampling a subset of flux ropes that are recently formed by the EDR and discuss how this impacts current theories for flux rope evolution on the magnetopause.&lt;/p&gt;</jats:p>
Desai R, Eastwood J, Eggington J, et al., 2022, Magnetospheric compressions, magnetopause shadowing and the last-closed-drift-shell
<jats:p>&lt;p&gt;Fluxes in the outer radiation belt can vary by orders of magnitude in response to solar wind driving conditions. Magnetopause shadowing, where electron and proton drift paths intersect the magnetopause boundary, is a fundamental loss process which operates on sub-day timescales and can result in rapid loss across the outer radiation belt. Accurate characterisation of this is therefore required to fully account for outer radiation belt dynamics and to avoid unrealistic fluxes impacting long-term forecasts. In this paper we utilise particle simulations of the radiation belts integrated within evolving global MHD simulations, to provide high-resolution high-fidelity simulations of the phenomenon of magnetopause shadowing. We model a variety of magnetopause compression scenarios corresponding to extreme cases of interplanetary shock impacts, and gradual increases in solar wind dynamic pressure. We thus constrain how time-dependent topological variation of the magnetospheric fields results in a complex interplay of open and closed particle drift paths, and examine the role of the electric field in modulating escaping particles trajectories as well as corresponding prompt injections into the inner magnetosphere.&lt;/p&gt;</jats:p>
Maffei S, Livermore P, Mound J, et al., 2022, The future evolution of the auroral zones
<jats:p>&lt;p&gt;The auroral zones indicate the locations on the Earth&amp;#8217;s surface where, on average, it is most likely to spot aurorae as a consequence of increased solar activity. The shape of the auroral zones and, similarly, the geographical locations most vulnerable to extreme space weather events are modulated by the geomagnetic field of internal origin. As the latter evolves in time, the formers will be subject to variations on the same timescales.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;From available geomagnetic field forecasts (which provide an estimate of the future evolution of the geomagnetic field of internal origin) we derive AACGM latitudes and estimate the future evolution of the auroral zones. The novel aspect of this technique is that we make use of all available Gauss coefficients to produce the forecasts, while the majority of present techniques estimate the location of the auroral zones based on the dipolar coefficients only. Our results show that, while the shift of the geomagnetic dipole axis has a first order contribution, higher order Gauss coefficients contribute significantly to the location and shape of the auroral zones.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;The same technique is then extended to estimate the future location of the geographical location that would be, on average, most exposed to extreme space weather event. We find that the space-weather related risk will not change significantly for the UK over the next 50 years. For the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario, however, we predict a significant increase in the risk associated to extreme solar activity.&lt;/p&gt;</jats:p>
Rodriguez L, Barnes D, Hosteaux S, et al., 2022, Comparing the heliospheric cataloging, analysis, and techniques service (HELCATS) manual and automatic catalogues of coronal mass ejections using solar terrestrial relations observatory/heliospheric Imager (STEREO/HI) Data, Solar Physics: a journal for solar and solar-stellar research and the study of solar terrestrial physics, Vol: 297, ISSN: 0038-0938
We present the results of a comparative study between automatic and manually compiled coronal mass ejection (CME) catalogues based on observations from the Heliospheric Imagers (HIs) onboard NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft. Using the Computer Aided CME Tracking software (CACTus), CMEs are identified in HI data using an automatic feature-detection algorithm, while the Heliospheric Imagers Catalogue (HICAT) includes CMEs that are detected by visual inspection of HI images. Both catalogues were compiled as part of the EU FP7 Heliospheric Cataloguing, Analysis and Techniques Service (HELCATS) project (www.helcats-fp7.eu). We compare observational parameters of the CMEs from CACTus to those listed in HICAT, such as CME frequency, position angle (PA), and PA-width. We also compare CACTus-derived speeds to speeds derived from applying geometric modelling to the majority of the HICAT CMEs, the results of which are listed in the HELCATS Heliospheric Imagers Geometric Catalogue (HIGeoCAT). We find that both CACTus and HICAT catalogues contain a similar number of events when we exclude events narrower than 20∘, which are not included in the HICAT catalogue but are found to be identified by CACTus. PA-distributions are strongly peaked around 90∘ and 270∘, with a slightly larger CME frequency northwards of the equatorial plane (particularly for the STEREO-A versions of both catalogues). The CME PA-widths in both HICAT and CACTus catalogues peak at approximately 60∘. Manually derived speeds from HIGeoCAT and automatically derived speeds by CACTus correlate well for values lower than 1000 km s−1, in particular when CMEs are propagating close to the plane of the sky.
Stawarz J, Eastwood J, Phan T, et al., 2022, Turbulence-driven magnetic reconnection and the magnetic correlation length: observations from magnetospheric multiscale in Earth's magnetosheath, Physics of Plasmas, Vol: 29, Pages: 1-20, ISSN: 1070-664X
Turbulent plasmas generate a multitude of thin current structures that can be sites for magnetic reconnection. The Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission has recently enabled the detailed examination of such turbulent current structures in Earth's magnetosheath and revealed that a novel type of reconnection, known as electron-only reconnection, can occur. In electron-only reconnection, ions do not have enough space to couple to the newly reconnected magnetic fields, suppressing ion jet formation and resulting in thinner sub-proton-scale current structures with faster super-Alfvénic electron jets. In this study, MMS observations are used to examine how the magnetic correlation length (λC) of the turbulence, which characterizes the size of the large-scale magnetic structures and constrains the length of the current sheets formed, influences the nature of turbulence-driven reconnection. We systematically identify 256 reconnection events across 60 intervals of magnetosheath turbulence. Most events do not appear to have ion jets; however, 18 events are identified with ion jets that are at least partially coupled to the reconnected magnetic field. The current sheet thickness and electron jet speed have a weak anti-correlation, with faster electron jets at thinner current sheets. When 𝜆𝐶≲20 ion inertial lengths, as is typical near the sub-solar magnetosheath, a tendency for thinner current sheets and potentially faster electron jets is present. The results are consistent with electron-only reconnection being more prevalent for turbulent plasmas with relatively short λC and may be relevant to the nonlinear dynamics and energy dissipation in turbulent plasmas.
Adhikari S, Parashar TN, Shay MA, et al., 2021, Energy transfer in reconnection and turbulence, Physical Review E: Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics, Vol: 104, ISSN: 1539-3755
Reconnection and turbulence are two of the most commonly observed dynamical processes in plasmas, but their relationship is still not fully understood. Using 2.5D kinetic particle-in-cell simulations of both strong turbulence and reconnection, we compare the cross-scale transfer of energy in the two systems by analyzing the generalization of the von Kármán Howarth equations for Hall magnetohydrodynamics, a formulation that subsumes the third-order law for steady energy transfer rates. Even though the large scale features are quite different, the finding is that the decomposition of the energy transfer is structurally very similar in the two cases. In the reconnection case, the time evolution of the energy transfer also exhibits a correlation with the reconnection rate. These results provide explicit evidence that reconnection dynamics fundamentally involves turbulence-like energy transfer.
Lavraud B, Kieokaew R, Fargette N, et al., 2021, Magnetic reconnection as a mechanism to produce multiple protonpopulations and beams locally in the solar wind, Journal of Astrophysics and Astronomy, Vol: 656, Pages: 1-8, ISSN: 0250-6335
Context. Spacecraft observations early revealed frequent multiple protonpopulations in the solar wind. Decades of research on their origin have focusedon processes such as magnetic reconnection in the low corona and wave-particleinteractions in the corona and locally in the solar wind.Aims.This study aimsto highlight that multiple proton populations and beams are also produced bymagnetic reconnection occurring locally in the solar wind. Methods. We use highresolution Solar Orbiter proton velocity distribution function measurements,complemented by electron and magnetic field data, to analyze the association ofmultiple proton populations and beams with magnetic reconnection during aperiod of slow Alfv\'enic solar wind on 16 July 2020. Results. At least 6reconnecting current sheets with associated multiple proton populations andbeams, including a case of magnetic reconnection at a switchback boundary, arefound during this day. This represents 2% of the measured distributionfunctions. We discuss how this proportion may be underestimated, and how it maydepend on solar wind type and distance from the Sun. Conclusions. Althoughsuggesting a likely small contribution, but which remains to be quantitativelyassessed, Solar Orbiter observations show that magnetic reconnection must beconsidered as one of the mechanisms that produce multiple proton populationsand beams locally in the solar wind.
Eastwood JP, Stawarz JE, Phan TD, et al., 2021, Solar Orbiter observations of an ion-scale flux rope confined to a bifurcated solar wind current sheet, Astronomy & Astrophysics, Vol: 656, Pages: 1-8, ISSN: 0004-6361
Context. Flux ropes in the solar wind are a key element of heliospheric dynamics and particle acceleration. When associated withcurrent sheets, the primary formation mechanism is magnetic reconnection and flux ropes in current sheets are commonly used astracers of the reconnection process.Aims. Whilst flux ropes associated with reconnecting current sheets in the solar wind have been reported, their occurrence, sizedistribution, and lifetime are not well understood.Methods. Here we present and analyse new Solar Orbiter magnetic field data reporting novel observations of a flux rope confined toa bifurcated current sheet in the solar wind. Comparative data and large-scale context is provided by Wind.Results. The Solar Orbiter observations reveal that the flux rope, which does not span the current sheet, is of ion scale, and in areconnection formation scenario, existed for a prolonged period of time as it was carried out in the reconnection exhaust. Wind is alsofound to have observed clear signatures of reconnection at what may be the same current sheet, thus demonstrating that reconnectionsignatures can be found separated by as much as ∼ 2 000 Earth radii, or 0.08 au.Conclusions. The Solar Orbiter observations provide new insight into the hierarchy of scales on which flux ropes can form, and showthat they exist down to the ion scale in the solar wind. The context provided by Wind extends the spatial scale over which reconnectionsignatures have been found at solar wind current sheets. The data suggest the local orientations of the current sheet at Solar Orbiterand Wind are rotated relative to each other, unlike reconnection observed at smaller separations; the implications of this are discussedwith reference to patchy vs. continuous reconnection scenarios.
Retino A, Khotyaintsev Y, Le Contel O, et al., 2021, Particle energization in space plasmas: towards a multi-point, multi-scale plasma observatory, Experimental Astronomy: an international journal on astronomical instrumentation and data analysis, ISSN: 0922-6435
This White Paper outlines the importance of addressing the fundamental science theme “How are charged particles energized in space plasmas” through a future ESA mission. The White Paper presents five compelling science questions related to particle energization by shocks, reconnection, waves and turbulence, jets and their combinations. Answering these questions requires resolving scale coupling, nonlinearity, and nonstationarity, which cannot be done with existing multi-point observations. In situ measurements from a multi-point, multi-scale L-class Plasma Observatory consisting of at least seven spacecraft covering fluid, ion, and electron scales are needed. The Plasma Observatory will enable a paradigm shift in our comprehension of particle energization and space plasma physics in general, with a very important impact on solar and astrophysical plasmas. It will be the next logical step following Cluster, THEMIS, and MMS for the very large and active European space plasmas community. Being one of the cornerstone missions of the future ESA Voyage 2050 science programme, it would further strengthen the European scientific and technical leadership in this important field.
Oieroset M, Phan TD, Ergun R, et al., 2021, Spatial evolution of magnetic reconnection diffusion region structures with distance from the X-line, Physics of Plasmas, Vol: 28, ISSN: 1070-664X
We report Magnetospheric Multiscale four-spacecraft observations of a thin reconnecting current sheet with weakly asymmetric inflow conditions and a guide field of approximately twice the reconnecting magnetic field. The event was observed at the interface of interlinked magnetic field lines at the flank magnetopause when the maximum spacecraft separation was 370 km and the spacecraft covered ∼1.7 ion inertial lengths (di) in the reconnection outflow direction. The ion-scale spacecraft separation made it possible to observe the transition from electron-only super ion-Alfvénic outflow near the electron diffusion region (EDR) to the emergence of sub-Alfvénic ion outflow in the ion diffusion region (IDR). The EDR to IDR evolution over a distance less than 2 di also shows the transition from a near-linear reconnecting magnetic field reversal to a more bifurcated current sheet as well as significant decreases in the parallel electric field and dissipation. Both the ion and electron heating in this diffusion region event were similar to the previously reported heating in the far downstream exhausts. The dimensionless reconnection rate, obtained four different ways, was in the range of 0.13–0.27. This event reveals the rapid spatial evolution of the plasma and electromagnetic fields through the EDR to IDR transition region
Dunlop MW, Dong XC, Wang TY, et al., 2021, Curlometer technique and applications, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol: 126, Pages: 1-29, ISSN: 2169-9380
We review the range of applications and use of the curlometer, initially developed to analyze Cluster multi-spacecraft magnetic field data; but more recently adapted to other arrays of spacecraft flying in formation, such as MMS small-scale, 4-spacecraft configurations; THEMIS close constellations of 3–5 spacecraft, and Swarm 2–3 spacecraft configurations. Although magnetic gradients require knowledge of spacecraft separations and the magnetic field, the structure of the electric current density (for example, its relative spatial scale), and any temporal evolution, limits measurement accuracy. Nevertheless, in many magnetospheric regions the curlometer is reliable (within certain limits), particularly under conditions of time stationarity, or with supporting information on morphology (for example, when the geometry of the large scale structure is expected). A number of large-scale regions have been covered, such as: the cross-tail current sheet, ring current, the current layer at the magnetopause and field-aligned currents. Transient and smaller scale current structures (e.g., reconnected flux tube or dipolarisation fronts) and energy transfer processes. The method is able to provide estimates of single components of the vector current density, even if there are only two or three satellites flying in formation, within the current region, as can be the case when there is a highly irregular spacecraft configuration. The computation of magnetic field gradients and topology in general includes magnetic rotation analysis and various least squares approaches, as well as the curlometer, and indeed the added inclusion of plasma measurements and the extension to larger arrays of spacecraft have recently been considered.
Mejnertsen L, Eastwood J, Chittenden J, 2021, Control of magnetopause flux rope topology by non-local reconnection, Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences, Vol: 8, Pages: 1-15, ISSN: 2296-987X
Dayside magnetic reconnection between the interplanetary magnetic field and the Earth’s magnetic field is the primary mechanism enabling mass and energy entry into the magnetosphere. During favorable solar wind conditions, multiple reconnection X-lines can form on the dayside magnetopause, potentially forming flux ropes. These flux ropes move tailward, but their evolution and fate in the tail is not fully understood. Whilst flux ropes may constitute a class of flux transfer events, the extent to which they add flux to the tail depends on their topology, which can only be measured in situ by satellites providing local observations. Global simulations allow the entire magnetospheric system to be captured at an instant in time, and thus reveal the interconnection between different plasma regions and dynamics on large scales. Using the Gorgon MHD code, we analyze the formation and evolution of flux ropes on the dayside magnetopause during a simulation of a real solar wind event. With a relatively strong solar wind dynamic pressure and southward interplanetary magnetic field, the dayside region becomes very dynamic with evidence of multiple reconnection events. The resulting flux ropes transit around the flank of the magnetosphere before eventually dissipating due to non-local reconnection. This shows that non-local effects may be important in controlling the topology of flux ropes and is a complicating factor in attempts to establish the overall contribution that flux ropes make in the general circulation of magnetic flux through the magnetosphere.
Goldman M, Newman DL, Eastwood JP, et al., 2021, Multi-beam energy moments of measured compound ion velocity distributions, Physics of Plasmas, Vol: 28, ISSN: 1070-664X
Compound ion distributions, fi(v), have been measured with high-time resolution by NASA's Magnetospheric Multi-Scale Mission (MMS) and have been found in reconnection simulations. A compound distribution, fi(v), consisting, for example, of essentially disjoint pieces will be called a multi-beam distribution and modeled as a sum of “beams,” fi(v) = f1(v) + ⋯ + fN(v). Velocity moments of fi(v) are taken beam by beam and summed. Such multi-beam moments of fi(v) have advantages over the customary standard velocity moments of fi(v), for which there is only one mean flow velocity. For example, the standard thermal energy moment of a pair of equal and opposite cold particle beams is non-zero even though each beam has zero thermal energy. We therefore call this thermal energy pseudothermal. By contrast, a multi-beam moment of two or more beams has no pseudothermal energy. We develop three different ways of approximating a compound ion velocity distribution, fi(v), as a sum of beams and finding multi-beam moments for both a compound fi(v) measured by MMS in the dayside magnetosphere during reconnection and a compound fi(v) found in a particle-in-cell simulation of magnetotail reconnection. The three methods are (i) a visual method in which the velocity centroid of each beam is estimated and the beam densities are determined self-consistently, (ii) a k-means method in which particles in a particle representation of fi(v) are sorted into a minimum energy configuration of N (= k) clusters, and (iii) a nonlinear least squares method based on a fit to a sum of N kappa functions. Multi-beam energy moments are calculated and compared with standard moments for the thermal energy density, pressure tensor, thermal energy flux (heat plus enthalpy fluxes), bulk kinetic energy density, ram pressure, and bulk kinetic energy flux. Applying this new formalism to real data demonstrates in detail how multi-beam techniques provide new insig
Desai R, Eastwood J, Horne R, et al., 2021, Drift orbit bifurcations and cross-field transport in the outer radiation belt: global MHD and integrated test-particle simulations, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol: 126, Pages: 1-14, ISSN: 2169-9380
Energetic particle fluxes in the outer magnetosphere present a significant challenge to modellingefforts as they can vary by orders of magnitude in response to solar wind driving conditions. In thisarticle, we demonstrate the ability to propagate test particles through global MHD simulations to ahigh level of precision and use this to map the cross-field radial transport associated with relativisticelectrons undergoing drift orbit bifurcations (DOBs). The simulations predict DOBs primarily occurwithin an Earth radius of the magnetopause loss cone and appears significantly different for southwardand northward interplanetary magnetic field orientations. The changes to the second invariant areshown to manifest as a dropout in particle fluxes with pitch angles close to 90◦and indicate DOBsare a cause of butterfly pitch angle distributions within the night-time sector. The convective electricfield, not included in previous DOB studies, is found to have a significant effect on the resultant longterm transport, and losses to the magnetopause and atmosphere are identified as a potential methodfor incorporating DOBs within Fokker-Planck transport models.
LaMoury AT, Hietala H, Plaschke F, et al., 2021, Solar wind control of magnetosheath jet formation and propagation to the magnetopause, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol: 126, Pages: 1-15, ISSN: 2169-9380
Magnetosheath jets are localized high-dynamic pressure pulses originating at Earth's bow shock and propagating earthward through the magnetosheath. Jets can influence magnetospheric dynamics upon impacting the magnetopause; however, many jets dissipate before reaching it. In this study we present a database of 13,096 jets observed by the Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms spacecraft from 2008 to 2018, spanning a solar cycle. Each jet is associated with upstream solar wind conditions from OMNI. We statistically examine how solar wind conditions control the likelihood of jets forming at the shock, and the conditions favorable for jets to propagate through the magnetosheath and reach the magnetopause. We see that, for each solar wind quantity, these two effects are separate, but when combined, we find that jets are over 17 times more likely to reach and potentially impact the magnetopause when the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) orientation is at a low cone angle, and approximately 8 times more likely during high speed solar wind. Low IMF magnitude, high Alfvén Mach number, and low density approximately double the number of jets at the magnetopause, while urn:x-wiley:21699380:media:jgra56749:jgra56749-math-0001 and dynamic pressure display no net effect. Due to the strong dependence on wind speed, we infer that jet impact rates may be solar cycle dependent as well as vary during solar wind transients. This is an important step towards forecasting the magnetospheric effects of magnetosheath jets, as it allows for predictions of jet impact rates based on measurements of the upstream solar wind.
Desai RT, Freeman M, Eastwood J, et al., 2021, Interplanetary shock-induced magnetopause motion: Comparison between theory and global magnetohydrodynamic simulations, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol: 48, Pages: 1-11, ISSN: 0094-8276
The magnetopause marks the outer edge of the Earth’s magnetosphere and a distinct boundary between solar wind and magnetospheric plasma populations. In this letter, we use global magneto-hydrodynamic simulations to examine the response of the terrestrial magnetopause to fast-forward interplanetary shocks of various strengths and compare to theoretical predictions. The theory and simulations indicate the magnetopause response can be characterised by three distinct phases; an initial acceleration as inertial forces are overcome, a rapid compressive phase comprising the majority of the distance travelled, and large-scale damped oscillations with amplitudes of the order of an Earth radius. The two approaches agree in predicting subsolar magnetopause oscillations with frequencies2–13 mHz but the simulations notably predict larger amplitudes and weaker damping rates. This phenomenon is of high relevance to space weather forecasting and provides a possible explanation for magnetopause oscillations observed following the large interplanetary shocks of August 1972 and March 1991.
Laker R, Horbury TS, Bale SD, et al., 2021, Multi-spacecraft study of the solar wind at solar minimum: Dependence on latitude and transient outflows, Astronomy and Astrophysics: a European journal, Vol: 652, Pages: 1-10, ISSN: 0004-6361
Context. The recent launches of Parker Solar Probe, Solar Orbiter (SO), and BepiColombo, along with several older spacecraft, have provided the opportunity to study the solar wind at multiple latitudes and distances from the Sun simultaneously.Aims. We take advantage of this unique spacecraft constellation, along with low solar activity across two solar rotations between May and July 2020, to investigate how the solar wind structure, including the heliospheric current sheet (HCS), varies with latitude.Methods. We visualise the sector structure of the inner heliosphere by ballistically mapping the polarity and solar wind speed from several spacecraft onto the Sun’s source surface. We then assess the HCS morphology and orientation with the in situ data and compare this with a predicted HCS shape.Results. We resolve ripples in the HCS on scales of a few degrees in longitude and latitude, finding that the local orientations of sector boundaries were broadly consistent with the shape of the HCS but were steepened with respect to a modelled HCS at the Sun. We investigate how several CIRs varied with latitude, finding evidence for the compression region affecting slow solar wind outside the latitude extent of the faster stream. We also identified several transient structures associated with HCS crossings and speculate that one such transient may have disrupted the local HCS orientation up to five days after its passage.Conclusions. We have shown that the solar wind structure varies significantly with latitude, with this constellation providing context for solar wind measurements that would not be possible with a single spacecraft. These measurements provide an accurate representation of the solar wind within ±10° latitude, which could be used as a more rigorous constraint on solar wind models and space weather predictions. In the future, this range of latitudes will increase as SO’s orbit becomes more inclined.
Fargette N, Lavraud B, Rouillard A, et al., 2021, Magnetic increases with central current sheets: Observations with Parker Solar Probe, Astronomy & Astrophysics, Vol: 650, Pages: 1-12, ISSN: 0004-6361
Aims. We report the observation by Parker Solar Probe (PSP) of magnetic structures in the solar wind that present a strong peak intheir magnetic field magnitude with an embedded central current sheet. Similar structures have been observed, either at the Earth’smagnetopause and called interlinked flux tubes, or in the solar wind and called interplanetary field enhancements.Methods. In this work, we first investigate two striking events in detail; one occurred in the regular slow solar wind on November 2,2018 and the other was observed during a heliospheric current sheet crossing on November 13, 2018. They both show the presenceof a central current sheet with a visible ion jet and general characteristics consistent with the occurrence of magnetic reconnection.We then performed a survey of PSP data from encounters 1 to 4 and find 18 additional events presenting an increase in the magneticfield magnitude of over 30% and a central current sheet. We performed a statistical study on the 20 "magnetic increases with centralcurrent sheet" (MICCS), with 13 observed in the regular slow solar wind with a constant polarity (i.e., identical strahl direction), and7 which were specifically observed near a heliospheric current sheet (HCS) crossing.Results. We analyze and discuss the general properties of the structures, including the duration, location, amplitude, and magnetictopology, as well as the characteristics of their central current sheet. We find that the latter has a preferential orientation in the TNplane of the RTN frame. We also find no significant change in the dust impact rate in the vicinity of the MICCS under study, leadingus to conclude that dust probably plays no role in the MICCS formation and evolution. Our findings are overall consistent with adouble flux tube-configuration that would result from initially distinct flux tubes which interact during solar wind propagation.
Phan TD, Lavraud B S J, Halekas, et al., 2021, Prevalence of magnetic reconnection in the near-Sun heliospheric current sheet, Astronomy & Astrophysics, Vol: 650, Pages: 1-14, ISSN: 0004-6361
During three of its first five orbits around the Sun, Parker Solar Probe (PSP) crossed the large-scale Heliospheric Current Sheet (HCS)multiple times and provided unprecedented detailed plasma and field observations of the near-Sun HCS. We report the commondetections by PSP of reconnection exhaust signatures in the HCS at heliocentric distances of 29.5-107 solar radii during Encounters1, 4 and 5. Both sunward and antisunward-directed reconnection exhausts were observed. In the sunward reconnection exhausts,PSP detected counterstreaming strahl electrons, indicating that HCS reconnection resulted in the formation of closed magnetic fieldlines with both ends connected to the Sun. In the antisunward exhausts, PSP observed dropouts of strahl electrons, consistent withthe reconnected HCS field lines being disconnected from the Sun. The common detection of reconnection in the HCS suggests thatreconnection is almost always active in the HCS near the Sun. Furthermore, the occurrence of multiple long-duration partial crossingsof the HCS suggests that HCS reconnection could produce chains of large bulges with spatial dimensions of up to several solarradii. The finding of the prevalence of reconnection in the HCS is somewhat surprising since PSP has revealed that the HCS is muchthicker than the kinetic scales required for reconnection onset. The observations are also in stark contrast with the apparent absenceof reconnection in most of the small-scale and much more intense current sheets encountered near perihelia, many of which areassociated with ‘switchbacks’. Thus, the PSP findings suggest that large-scale dynamics either locally in the solar wind or within thecoronal source of the HCS (at the tip of helmet streamers) plays a critical role in triggering reconnection onset.
Hapgood M, Angling MJ, Attrill G, et al., 2021, Development of space weather reasonable worst‐case scenarios for the UK national risk assessment, Space Weather, Vol: 19, Pages: 1-32, ISSN: 1542-7390
Severe space weather was identified as a risk to the UK in 2010 as part of a wider review of natural hazards triggered by the societal disruption caused by the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in April of that year. To support further risk assessment by government officials, and at their request, we developed a set of reasonable worst‐case scenarios and first published them as a technical report in 2012 (current version published in 2020). Each scenario focused on a space weather environment that could disrupt a particular national infrastructure such as electric power or satellites, thus, enabling officials to explore the resilience of that infrastructure against severe space weather through discussions with relevant experts from other parts of government and with the operators of that infrastructure. This approach also encouraged us to focus on the environmental features that are key to generating adverse impacts. In this paper, we outline the scientific evidence that we have used to develop these scenarios, and the refinements made to them as new evidence emerged. We show how these scenarios are also considered as an ensemble so that government officials can prepare for a severe space weather event, during which many or all of the different scenarios will materialize. Finally, we note that this ensemble also needs to include insights into how public behavior will play out during a severe space weather event and hence the importance of providing robust, evidence‐based information on space weather and its adverse impacts.
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