Analyzing low frequency waves associated with plasma sheet flow channels

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Xiaoyan Xing1, Jun Liang2, Chih-Ping Wang1, Larry R Lyons3 and Vassilis Angelopoulos1, (1)University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, United States, (2)Univ. of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada, (3)UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, United States
Low frequency (0.006~0.02 Hz) magnetic oscillations are frequently observed to be associated with the substorm-related dipolarization in the near-Earth plasma sheet. It has been suggested that these oscillations are possibly triggered by ballooning instability in the transition region. However, our multi-point observations using THEMIS spacecraft have shown that similar oscillations are observed to be associated with the earthward moving flow channels as they penetrate from middle tail to the transition region. Linear MHD wave analysis suggested that these oscillations ahead of the dipolarization front are magnetosonic waves. For most of the cases, the thermal pressure and magnetic pressures variations are anti-phase, indicating slow mode waves. However, by taking advantage of the spacecraft located very close in X-Y plane and slightly away from the central plasma sheet, we found that for many events the phase relation between the thermal and magnetic pressure variations is Z-dependent, which suggests that the observational evidence for slow mode may not be applicable. In order to further examine these waves, we performed a MHD analysis in inhomogeneous plasma sheet. The calculation shows that for Harris Sheet configuration, the thermal and magnetic pressures variations can be anti-phase for any wave other than slow mode waves where the vertical velocity disturbance reaches its maximum, thus this phase relation may not be used as an identifier of magnetosonic wave modes. We will show the dispersion relation and wave generated disturbances obtained from the numerical calculations.