Cluster observations of electrostatic solitary waves near the Earth's bow shock Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • [1] Using a period of internal burst mode data from the Cluster Electric Field and Wave instrument a number of electrostatic solitary structures have been identified in the foot region of Earth's quasi-perpendicular bow shock. The four individual probe potential measurements are utilized to investigate the fundamental characteristics of the solitary wave structures such as wave propagation vector, propagation velocity, scale-size and potential amplitude. Two classes of waves are observed. Bipolar solitary waves typically propagate in the solar wind direction toward the shock but at a significant angle from the ambient magnetic field. Unipolar/tripolar solitary waves tend to propagate along the ambient magnetic field. The wave amplitude-scale size relation is similar to that obtained for similar structures observed in the auroral zone. The structures lie in the theoretically allowed region in width-amplitude space to be consistent with the BGK ion holes. Using a period of internal burst mode data from the Cluster Electric Field and Wave instrument a number of electrostatic solitary structures have been identified in the foot region of Earth's quasi-perpendicular bow shock. The four individual probe potential measurements are utilized to investigate the fundamental characteristics of the solitary wave structures such as wave propagation vector, propagation velocity, scale-size and potential amplitude. Two classes of waves are observed. Bipolar solitary waves typically propagate in the solar wind direction toward the shock but at a significant angle to the ambient magnetic field in contrast to most previous studies which assume parallel propagation to the ambient magnetic field. In contrast, unipolar/tripolar solitary waves tend to propagate along the ambient magnetic field. The wave amplitude-scale size relation is similar to that obtained for structures observed in the auroral zone. The structures lie in the theoretically allowed region in width-amplitude space to be consistent with the BGK (Bernstein-Greene-Kruskal) ion holes. The two classes of observed solitary waves may greatly influence the ambient plasma dynamics around the shock. The bipolar solitary waves do not exhibit a large net potential difference but may still play an important role in plasma thermalisation by particle scattering. Unipolar/tripolar solitary waves exhibit a remarkable net potential difference that may be responsible for the plasma energisation along the ambient magnetic field.

publication date

  • January 1, 2008