DYNAMICS OF ION-SCALE COHERENT MAGNETIC STRUCTURES AND COUPLING WITH WHISTLER WAVES DURING SUBSTORMS.

Abstract : A new model of the self-consistent coupling between low frequency, ion-scale coherent magnetic structures and high frequency whistler waves is proposed in order to interpret space data gathered by Cluster satellites during substorm events, in the night sector of the Earth's magnetosphere. The coupling provides a mechanism to spatially confine and transport whistler waves by means of a highly oblique, propagating nonlinear carrier wave. The present study relies on a combination of data analysis of original in situ measurements, theoretical modeling and numerical investigation. During substorms, the magnetosphere undergoes strong magnetic and electric field fluctuations ranging from low frequencies, of the order or less than the typical ion-time scales, to higher frequencies, of the order or higher than the typical electron time-scales. To understand basic plasma physical processes which characterize the magnetosphere dynamics during substorms an analysis of whether, and by which mechanism, waves occurring at these different time scales are coupled, is of fundamental interest. Low frequency magnetic structures are commonly detected in environments such as the magnetosheath and the solar wind, as well as in the dusk magnetosphere, possibly correlated with higher frequency whistler waves. In this Thesis it is shown that similar magnetic structures, correlated with whistler waves, are observed in the magnetospheric plasma sheet during substorms. The interesting question arises as to how the inhomogeneity associated with such magnetic structures affects the propagation of higher frequency waves. The Cluster mission, thanks to its four satellites in tetrahedron configuration and high temporal resolution measurements, provides a unique opportunity on the one hand to explore the spatial structure of stationary and propagating perturbations observed at low frequencies and on the other hand to study dynamics occurring at higher temporal scales, via whistler mode waves. With regard to this, I will describe the Cluster spacecraft detection of large amplitude whistler wave packets inside coherent ion-scale magnetic structures embedded in a fast plasma flow during the August 17th 2003 substorm event. In this period the Cluster satellites were located in the plasma sheet region and separated by a distance which is less than the magnetotail typical ion-scale lengths, namely the ion gyroradius and the ion inertial length. The observed whistler emissions are correlated with magnetic field structures showing magnetic depletions associated with density humps. As a first step, the latter have been modeled as one dimensional nonlinear slow waves which spatially confine and transport whistlers, in the framework of a two-fluid approximation. This schematic model is investigated through a theoretical and numerical study by means of a two-fluid code, and it is shown that the proposed model goes quite well with data interpretation. Its possible role in substorm dynamics is also discussed. This new trapping mechanism, studied here by using a highly oblique slow magnetosonic soliton as a guide for whistler waves, is of more general interest beyond the specific context of the observations reported in this Thesis. Other nonlinear structures showing similar features, for example highly oblique nonlinear Alfvén waves or kinetic Alfvén waves in high beta plasmas, can in principle act as wave carriers. The model proposed provides an explanation for the recurrent detection of whistlers inside ion-scale magnetic structures which is alternative to usual models of stationary magnetic structures acting as channels. Moreover, the study described in this Thesis addresses more general questions of basic plasma physics, such as wave propagation in inhomogeneous plasmas and the interaction between wave modes at different temporal scales.
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Anna Tenerani. DYNAMICS OF ION-SCALE COHERENT MAGNETIC STRUCTURES AND COUPLING WITH WHISTLER WAVES DURING SUBSTORMS.. Plasma Physics [physics.plasm-ph]. Université Pierre et Marie Curie - Paris VI, 2012. English. ⟨tel-00789137⟩

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