Articles | Volume 13, issue 4
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 13, 377–392, 2006

Special issue: Nonlinear and multiscale phenomena in space plasmas

Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 13, 377–392, 2006

  10 Aug 2006

10 Aug 2006

Experimental study of nonlinear interaction of plasma flow with charged thin current sheets: 2. Hall dynamics, mass and momentum transfer

S. Savin1, E. Amata2, M. Andre3, M. Dunlop4, Y. Khotyaintsev3, P. M. E. Decreau5, J. L. Rauch5, J. G. Trotignon5, J. Buechner6, B. Nikutowski6, J. Blecki7, A. Skalsky1, S. Romanov1, L. Zelenyi1, A. M. Buckley8, T. D. Carozzi8, M. P. Gough8, P. Song9, H. Reme10, A. Volosevich11, H. Alleyne12, and E. Panov1,6 S. Savin et al.
  • 1Space Research Institute, 117997, Profsoyuznaya 84/32, Moscow, Russia
  • 2Istituto di Fisica dello Spazio Interplanetario, INAF, Roma, Italy
  • 3Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Uppsala, Sweden
  • 4Space Science and Technology Department, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK
  • 5Laboratoire de Physique et Chimie, de l'Environnement, CNRS, Orléans, France, France
  • 6Max-Planck-Institut fur Sonnensystemforschung, Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany
  • 7Space Research Center, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
  • 8Space Science Centre, University of Sussex, UK
  • 9University of Massachusetts, Lowell, USA
  • 10Centre d'Etude Spatiale de Rayonnement, CNRS/UPS/OMP, Toulouse, France
  • 11Mogilev State University, Belarus
  • 12Control and Systems Engineering, University of Sheffield, UK

Abstract. Proceeding with the analysis of Amata et al. (2005), we suggest that the general feature for the local transport at a thin magnetopause (MP) consists of the penetration of ions from the magnetosheath with gyroradius larger than the MP width, and that, in crossing it, the transverse potential difference at the thin current sheet (TCS) is acquired by these ions, providing a field-particle energy exchange without parallel electric fields. It is suggested that a part of the surface charge is self-consistently produced by deflection of ions in the course of inertial drift in the non-uniform electric field at MP.

Consideration of the partial moments of ions with different energies demonstrates that the protons having gyroradii of roughly the same size or larger than the MP width carry fluxes normal to MP that are about 20% of the total flow in the plasma jet under MP. This is close to the excess of the ion transverse velocity over the cross-field drift speed in the plasma flow just inside MP (Amata et al., 2005), which conforms to the contribution of the finite-gyroradius inflow across MP. A linkage through the TCS between different plasmas results from the momentum conservation of the higher-energy ions. If the finite-gyroradius penetration occurs along the MP over ~1.5 RE from the observation site, then it can completely account for the formation of the jet under the MP. To provide the downstream acceleration of the flow near the MP via the cross-field drift, the weak magnetic field is suggested to rotate from its nearly parallel direction to the unperturbed flow toward being almost perpendicular to the accelerated flow near the MP.

We discuss a deceleration of the higher-energy ions in the MP normal direction due to the interaction with finite-scale electric field bursts in the magnetosheath flow frame, equivalent to collisions, providing a charge separation. These effective collisions, with a nonlinear frequency proxy of the order of the proton cyclotron one, in extended turbulent zones are a promising alternative in place of the usual parallel electric fields invoked in the macro-reconnection scenarios. Further cascading towards electron scales is supposed to be due to unstable parallel electron currents, which neutralize the potential differences, either resulted from the ion- burst interactions or from the inertial drift.

The complicated MP shape suggests its systematic velocity departure from the local normal towards the average one, inferring domination for the MP movement of the non-local processes over the small-scale local ones.

The measured Poynting vector indicates energy transmission from the MP into the upstream region with the waves triggering impulsive downstream flows, providing an input into the local flow balance and the outward movement of the MP.

Equating the transverse electric field inside the MP TCS by the Hall term in the Ohm's law implies a separation of the different plasmas primarily by the Hall current, driven by the respective part of the TCS surface charge. The Hall dynamics of TCS can operate either without or as a part of a macro-reconnection with the magnetic field annihilation.