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The evolution of flux pileup regions in the plasma sheet: Cluster observations
KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1270-1616
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2013 (English)In: Journal of Geophysical Research, ISSN 0148-0227, E-ISSN 2156-2202, Vol. 118, no 10, 6279-6290 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Bursty bulk flows (BBFs) play an important role for the mass, energy, and magnetic flux transport in the plasma sheet, and the flow pattern in and around a BBF has important consequences for the localized energy conversion between the electromagnetic and plasma mechanical energy forms. The plasma flow signature in and around BBFs is often rather complicated. Return flows and plasma vortices are expected to exist at the flanks of the main flow channel, especially near the inner plasma sheet boundary, but also farther down-tail. A dipolarization front (DF) is often observed at the leading edge of a BBF, and a flux pileup region (FPR) behind the DF. Here we present Cluster data of three FPRs associated with vortex flows observed in the midtail plasma sheet on 15 August 2001. According to the principles of Fu et al. (2011, 2012c), two of the FPRs are considered to be in an early stage of evolution (growing FPRs). The third FPR is in a later stage of evolution (decaying FPR). For the first time, the detailed energy conversion properties during various stages of the FPR evolution have been measured. We show that the later stage FPR has a more complex vortex pattern than the two earlier stage FPRs. The two early stage FPR correspond to generators, EJ<0, while the later stage FPR only shows weak generator characteristics and is instead dominated by load signatures at the DF, EJ>0. Moreover, to our knowledge, this is one of the first times BBF-related plasma vortices have been observed to propagate over the spacecraft in the midtail plasma sheet at geocentric distances of about 18R(E). Our observations are compared to recent simulation results and previous observations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 118, no 10, 6279-6290 p.
Keyword [en]
dipolarization front, energy conversion, flow vortices, flux pileup region, generator, load
National Category
Fusion, Plasma and Space Physics
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-140069DOI: 10.1002/jgra.50603ISI: 000330180600027ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84889252313OAI: diva2:688682

QC 20150624

Available from: 2014-01-17 Created: 2014-01-17 Last updated: 2015-06-24Bibliographically approved

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