Isolated magnetic field structures in Mercury's magnetosheath as possible analogues for terrestrial magnetosheath plasmoids and jets
2016 (English)In: Planetary and Space Science, ISSN 0032-0633, E-ISSN 1873-5088, Vol. 129, 61-73 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
We have investigated MESSENGER magnetic field data from the Mercury magnetosheath and near solar wind, to identify isolated magnetic field structures (defined as clear, isolated changes in the field magnitude). Their properties are studied in order to determine if they may be considered as analogues to plasmoids and jets known to exist in Earth's magnetosheath. Both isolated decreases of the magnetic field absolute value ('negative magnetic field structures') and increases ('positive structures') are found in the magnetosheath, whereas only negative structures are found in the solar wind. The similar properties of the solar wind and magnetosheath negative magnetic field structures suggests that they are analogous to diamagnetic plasmoids found in Earth's magnetosheath and near solar wind. The latter have earlier been identified with solar wind magnetic holes. Positive magnetic field structures are only found in the magnetosheath, concentrated to a region relatively close to the magnetopause. Their proximity to the magnetopause, their scale sizes, and the association of a majority of the structures with bipolar magnetic field signatures identify them as flux transfer events (which generally are associated with a decrease of plasma density in the magnetosheath). The positive magnetic field structures are therefore not likely to be analogous to terrestrial paramagnetic plasmoids but possibly to a sub-population of magnetosheath jets. At Earth, a majority of magnetosheath jets are associated with the quasi-parallel bow shock. We discuss some consequences of the findings of the present investigation pertaining to the different nature of the quasi-parallel bow shock at Mercury and Earth.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2016. Vol. 129, 61-73 p.
Mercury, Magnetosheath, Bow shock, MESSENGER, Plasmoids, Magnetosheath jets
Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-192709DOI: 10.1016/j.pss.2016.06.002ISI: 000381323800006OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-192709DiVA: diva2:974404
QC 201609262016-09-262016-09-202016-09-26Bibliographically approved