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Structure and dynamics of the interface between interlacing flux tubes observed at the Earth's magnetopause by MMS mission

Abstract : Magnetic reconnection is a ubiquitous and fundamental process in space plasma physics. The NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale mission (MMS) launched on 12 March 2015 was designed to provide in-situ measurements for analyzing the reconnection process at the Earth's magnetosphere. In this aim, four identically instrumented spacecraft measure fields and particles in the reconnection regions with a time resolution which is one hundred times faster than previous missions. MMS allows for the first time to study the microscopic structures associated with magnetic reconnection and, in particular, the thin electron diffusion region. At the Earth's magnetopause, magnetic reconnection governs the transport of energy and momentum from the solar wind plasma into the Earth's magnetosphere through conversion of magnetic energy into kinetic and thermal energies after a rearrangement of magnetic field lines. Flux Transfer Events (FTEs) are considered to be one of the main and most typical products of magnetic reconnection at the Earth's magnetopause. However, more complex 3D magnetic structures with signatures akin to those of FTEs might also occur at the magnetopause like interlaced flux tubes resulting from magnetic reconnection at multiple sites. The first part of the work presented in this thesis consisted of the investigation of one of these events that was observed, under unusual and extreme solar wind conditions, in the vicinity of the Earth's magnetopause by MMS. Despite signatures that, at first glance, appeared consistent with a classic FTE, this event was interpreted to be the result of the interaction of two separate sets of magnetic field lines with different connectivities. The high time resolution of MMS data allowed to resolve a thin current sheet that was observed at the interface between the two sets of field lines. The current sheet was associated with a large ion jet suggesting that the current sheet was submitted to a compression which drove magnetic reconnection and led to the formation of the ion jet. The direction, velocity and scale of different structures were inferred using multi-spacecraft data analysis techniques. This study was completed with a plasma wave analysis that focused on the reconnecting current sheet.
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  • HAL Id : tel-02316032, version 1

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Issaad Kacem. Structure and dynamics of the interface between interlacing flux tubes observed at the Earth's magnetopause by MMS mission. Astrophysics [astro-ph]. Université Paul Sabatier - Toulouse III, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018TOU30163⟩. ⟨tel-02316032⟩

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