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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 36, issue 6
Ann. Geophys., 36, 1521-1535, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-36-1521-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 36, 1521-1535, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-36-1521-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Regular paper 14 Nov 2018

Regular paper | 14 Nov 2018

Crescent-shaped electron velocity distribution functions formed at the edges of plasma jets interacting with a tangential discontinuity

Gabriel Voitcu1 and Marius Echim1,2 Gabriel Voitcu and Marius Echim
  • 1Institute of Space Science, Magurele, 077125, Romania
  • 2Belgian Institute of Space Aeronomy, Brussels, 1180, Belgium

Abstract. In this paper we discuss numerical simulations that illustrate a physical mechanism leading to the formation of crescent-shaped electron velocity distribution functions at the edges of a high-speed plasma jet impacting on a thin, steep and impenetrable tangential discontinuity with no magnetic shear. We use three-dimensional particle-in-cell simulations to compute the velocity distribution function of electrons in different areas of the plasma jet and at different phases of the interaction with the discontinuity. The simulation set-up corresponds to an idealized, yet relevant, magnetic configuration likely to be observed at the frontside magnetopause under the northward interplanetary magnetic field. The combined effect of the gradient-B drift and the remote sensing of large Larmor radius electrons leads to the formation of crescent-shaped electron velocity distribution functions. We provide examples of such distributions measured by a virtual satellite launched into the simulation domain.

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Short summary
The frontal region of Earth's magnetic shield, the magnetopause, is very often impacted by high-speed jets of solar origin that can trigger multiple geophysical effects. Our study brings novel results that contribute to understanding the dynamics of such structures. We performed advanced simulations and demonstrate the formation of a peculiar particle distribution of the energy (the crescent-shaped electron distribution) at the edges of plasma jets interacting with the magnetopause.
The frontal region of Earth's magnetic shield, the magnetopause, is very often impacted by...
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