Browsing by Subject "space plasma physics"

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  • Juusola, Liisa; Hoilijoki, Sanni; Pfau-Kempf, Yann; Ganse, Urs; Järvinen, Riku; Battarbee, Markus; Kilpua, Emilia; Turc, Lucile; Palmroth, Minna (2018)
    Fast plasma flows produced as outflow jets from reconnection sites or X lines are a key feature of the dynamics in the Earth's magnetosphere. We have used a polar plane simulation of the hybrid-Vlasov model Vlasiator, driven by steady southward interplanetary magnetic field and fast solar wind, to study fast plasma sheet ion flows and related magnetic field structures in the Earth's magnetotail. In the simulation, lobe reconnection starts to produce fast flows after the increasing pressure in the lobes has caused the plasma sheet to thin sufficiently. The characteristics of the earthward and tailward fast flows and embedded magnetic field structures produced by multi-point tail reconnection are in general agreement with spacecraft measurements reported in the literature. The structuring of the flows is caused by internal processes: interactions between major X points determine the earthward or tailward direction of the flow, while interactions between minor X points, associated with leading edges of magnetic islands carried by the flow, induce local minima and maxima in the flow speed. Earthward moving flows are stopped and diverted duskward in an oscillatory (bouncing) manner at the transition region between tail-like and dipolar magnetic fields. Increasing and decreasing dynamic pressure of the flows causes the transition region to shift earthward and tailward, respectively. The leading edge of the train of earthward flow bursts is associated with an earthward propagating dipolarization front, while the leading edge of the train of tailward flow bursts is associated with a tailward propagating plasmoid. The impact of the dipolarization front with the dipole field causes magnetic field variations in the Pi2 range. Major X points can move either earthward or tailward, although tailward motion is more common. They are generally not advected by the ambient flow. Instead, their velocity is better described by local parameters, such that an X point moves in the direction of increasing reconnection electric field strength. Our results indicate that ion kinetics might be sufficient to describe the behavior of plasma sheet bulk ion flows produced by tail reconnection in global near-Earth simulations.
  • Pokhotelov, D.; von Alfthan, S.; Kempf, Y.; Vainio, R.; Koskinen, H. E. J.; Palmroth, M. (2013)
  • Hoilijoki, Sanni (Finnish Meteorological Institute, 2017)
    Finnish Meteorological Institute Contributions 132
    This thesis investigates interactions between solar wind and the magnetosphere of the Earth using two global magnetosphericsimulation models, GUMICS-4 and Vlasiator, which are both developed in Finland. The main topic of the thesis is magnetic reconnection at the dayside magnetopause, its drivers and global effects. Magnetosheath mirror mode waves and their evolution, identification and impacts on the local reconnection rates at the magnetopause are also discussed. This thesis consists of four peer-reviewed papers and an introductory part. GUMICS-4 is a magnetohydrodynamic model solving plasma as a single magnetized fluid. Vlasiator is the world’s first global magnetospheric hybrid-Vlasov simulation model, which solves the motion of ions by describing them as velocity distribution functions, whereas electrons are described as a charge neutralizing fluid. Vlasiator is able to solve ion scale physics in a global scale simulation. However, it is computationally heavy and the global simulations are currently describing Earth’s magnetosphere only in two spatial dimensions, whereas the velocity space is three dimensional. This thesis shows that magnetic reconnection at the dayside magnetopause is controlled by several factors. The impact of dipole tilt angle and sunward component of the interplanetary magnetic field on magnetopause reconnection is investigated with a set of GUMICS-4 simulations. Using Vlasiator simulations, this thesis shows that local reconnection rate is highly variable even during steady solar wind and correlates well with an analytical model for 2D asymmetric reconnection. It is also shown that the local reconnection rate is affected by local variations in the magnetosheath plasma. Fluctuations in the magnetosheath parameters near X-lines are partly generated by mirror mode waves that are observed to grow in the quasi-perpendicular magnetosheath. These results show that that the local reconnection rate at the X-lines is affected not only by the fluctuations in the inflow parameters but also by reconnection at nearby X-lines. Outflow from stronger X-lines pushes against the weaker ones and might ultimately suppress reconnection in the weaker X-lines. Magnetic islands, 2D representations of FTEs, form between X-lines in the Vlasiator simulations. FTEs propagate along the dayside magnetopause driving bow waves in the magnetosheath. The bow waves propagate upstream all the way to the bow shock causing bulges in the shock, from which solar wind particles can reflect back to the solar wind causing local foreshocks. The overall conclusion of this thesis is that the ion scale kinetic physics is important to accurately model the solar wind – magnetosheath – magnetopause interactions. Vlasiator results show a strong scale-coupling between ion and global scales: global scale phenomena have an impact on the local physics and the local phenomena may have unexpected impacts on the global dynamics of the magnetosphere. Neglecting the global scales in local ion scale simulations and vice versa may therefore lead to incomplete description of the solar wind – magnetosphere interactions.
  • Ala-Lahti, Matti M.; Kilpua, Emilia K. J.; Dimmock, Andrew P.; Osmane, Adnane; Pulkkinen, Tuija; Soucek, Jan (2018)
    We present a comprehensive statistical analysis of mirror mode waves and the properties of their plasma surroundings in sheath regions driven by interplanetary coronal mass ejection (ICME). We have constructed a semi-automated method to identify mirror modes from the magnetic field data. We analyze 91 ICME sheath regions from January 1997 to April 2015 using data from the Wind spacecraft. The results imply that similarly to planetary magnetosheaths, mirror modes are also common structures in ICME sheaths. However, they occur almost exclusively as dip-like structures and in mirror stable plasma. We observe mirror modes throughout the sheath, from the bow shock to the ICME leading edge, but their amplitudes are largest closest to the shock. We also find that the shock strength (measured by Alfven Mach number) is the most important parameter in controlling the occurrence of mirror modes. Our findings suggest that in ICME sheaths the dominant source of free energy for mirror mode generation is the shock compression. We also suggest that mirror modes that are found deeper in the sheath are remnants from earlier times of the sheath evolution, generated also in the vicinity of the shock.
  • Palmroth, Minna; Hoilijoki, Sanni; Juusola, Liisa; Pulkkinen, Tuija I.; Hietala, Heli; Pfau-Kempf, Yann; Ganse, Urs; von Alfthan, Sebastian; Vainio, Rami; Hesse, Michael (2017)
    The key dynamics of the magnetotail have been researched for decades and have been associated with either three-dimensional (3-D) plasma instabilities and/or magnetic reconnection. We apply a global hybrid-Vlasov code, Vlasiator, to simulate reconnection self-consistently in the ion kinetic scales in the noon-midnight meridional plane, including both dayside and nightside reconnection regions within the same simulation box. Our simulation represents a numerical experiment, which turns off the 3-D instabilities but models ion-scale reconnection physically accurately in 2-D. We demonstrate that many known tail dynamics are present in the simulation without a full description of 3-D instabilities or without the detailed description of the electrons. While multiple reconnection sites can coexist in the plasma sheet, one reconnection point can start a global reconfiguration process, in which magnetic field lines become detached and a plasmoid is released. As the simulation run features temporally steady solar wind input, this global reconfiguration is not associated with sudden changes in the solar wind. Further, we show that lobe density variations originating from dayside reconnection may play an important role in stabilising tail reconnection.
  • Lakka, Antti; Pulkkinen, Tuija I.; Dimmock, Andrew P.; Osmane, Adnane; Honkonen, Ilja; Palmroth, Minna; Janhunen, Pekka (2017)
    We investigate the effects of different initialisation methods of the GUMICS-4 global magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulation to the dynamics in different parts of the Earth's magnetosphere and hence compare five 12 h simulation runs that were initiated by 3 h of synthetic data and followed by 9 h of solar wind measurements using the OMNI data as input. As a reference, we use a simulation run that includes nearly 60 h of OMNI data as input prior to the 9 h interval examined with different initialisations. The selected interval is a high-speed stream event during a 10-day interval (12-22 June 2007). The synthetic initialisations include stepwise, linear and sinusoidal functions of the interplanetary magnetic field with constant density and velocity values. The results show that the solutions converge within 1 h to give a good agreement in both the bow shock and the magnetopause position. However, the different initialisation methods lead to local differences which should be taken into consideration when comparing model results to satellite measurements.
  • Pfau-Kempf, Yann (Finnish Meteorological Institute, 2016)
    Vlasiator – From local to global magnetospheric hybrid-Vlasov simulations Contributions 127
    The Sun is the source of the solar wind, a continuous stream of electrically charged particles and magnetic fields pervading the Solar system. Its interaction with the magnetic field of the Earth, in and around the region called the magnetosphere, controls the flow of matter and energy in near-Earth space. A fundamental understanding of the physical processes at play is crucial for the building of forecasting and warning systems, as the influence of the solar wind during space storms can harm life and technology in space and on the ground. These effects, collectively known as space weather, are one of the biggest albeit least understood natural threats to society. The research effort needed includes the development of observational methods as well as theories and models, to first describe and later predict the mechanisms and consequences of space weather. This doctoral thesis, comprising an introduction and four peer-reviewed articles, presents the hybrid-Vlasov model Vlasiator developed at the Finnish Meteorological Institute. Based on a detailed description of proton physics in space plasmas, Vlasiator allows to simulate both local contexts and the Earth’s magnetosphere on global scales. This unprecedented capability is only accessible by harnessing the power of modern supercomputers. The aim of this work is threefold. The current version of Vlasiator is documented considering physical and computational aspects, the correctness of the simulations is demonstrated by comparing to analytical theories and spacecraft observations, and new scientific results gained with this model are presented.