Thin and superthin ion current sheets. Quasi-adiabatic and nonadiabatic models
- 1Space Research Institute, Moscow, Russia
- 2Nuclear Physics Institute, Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia
- *Present address: Department of Astronomy, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
- 3Department of Astronomy, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
Abstract. Thin anisotropic current sheets (CSs) are phenomena of the general occurrence in the magnetospheric tail. We develop an analytical theory of the self-consistent thin CSs. General solitions of the Grad-Shafranov equation are obtained in a quasi-adiabatic approximation which neglects the jumps of the sheet adiabatic invariant Iz This is possible if the anisotropy of the initial distribution function is not too strong. The resulting structure of the thin CSs is interpreted as a sum of negative dia- and positive paramagnetic currents flowing near the neutral plane. In the immediate vicinity of the magnetic field reversal region the paramagnetic current arising from the meandering motion of the ions on Speiser orbits dominates. The maximum CS thick-ness is achieved in the case of weak plasma anisotropy and is of the order of the thermal ion gyroradius outside the sheet. A unified picture of thin CS scalings includes both the quasi-adiabatic regimes of weak and strong anisotropies and the nonadiabatic limit of super-strong anisotropy of the source ion distribution. The later limit corresponds to the case of almost field-aligned initial distribution, when the ratio of the drift velocity outside the CS to the thermal ion velocity exceeds the ratio of the magnetic field outside the CS to its value in-side the CS (vD/vT> B0/Bn). In this regime the jumps of Iz, become essential, and the current sheet thickness is approaching to some small but finite value, which depends upon the parameter Bn /B0. Convective electric field increases the effective anisotropy of the source distribution and might produce the essential CS thinning which could have important implications for the sub-storm dynamics.