Solitary potential structures observed in the magnetosheath by the Cluster spacecraft
- 1Department of Physics and Astronomy, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA
- 2Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
- 3School of Electrical Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA
- 4The Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College, London, UK
Abstract. Bipolar pulses of ~ 25-100 µs in duration have been observed in the wave electric field data obtained by the Wideband plasma wave instrument on the Cluster spacecraft in the dayside magnetosheath. These pulses are similar in almost all respects to those observed on several spacecraft over the last few years. They represent solitary potential structures, and in this case, electron phase space holes. When the time series data containing the bipolar pulses on Cluster are transformed to the frequency domain by a windowed FFT, the pulses appear as typical broad-band features, extending from the low-frequency cutoff of the bandpass filter, ~ 1 kHz, up to as great as 20-40 kHz in some cases, with decreasing intensity as the frequency increases. The upper frequency cutoff of the broad band is an indication of the individual pulse durations (1/f). The solitary potential structures are detected when the local magnetic field is contained primarily in the spin plane, indicating that they propagate along the magnetic field. Their frequency extent and intensity seem to increase as the angle between the directions of the magnetic field and the plasma flow decreases from 90°. Of major significance is the finding that the overall profile of the broad-band features observed simultaneously by two Cluster spacecraft, separated by a distance of over 750 km, are strikingly similar in terms of onset times, frequency extent, intensity, and termination. This implies that the generation region of the solitary potential structures observed in the magnetosheath near the bow shock is very large and may be located at or near the bow shock, or be connected with the bow shock in some way.