Observations and MHD Simulations for a Shocked Magnetotail
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Recent studies disclosed that interplanetary shocks not only raise global auroral activity, but also cause significant tail disturbances, ranging from ULF wave excitation to abrupt cross-tail current sheet thinning and current density increase, generation of burst bulk flows and dipolarization fronts, and to magnetic reconnection enhancement. In addition, shocks can also cause significant deformation of the magnetotail at ~60 Re and beyond. In this paper we study a shock event using ARTEMIS in situ observations and OpenGGCM MHD simulations. The two ARTEMIS spacecraft were located near the tail current sheet and lobe center at (-60, 1, -5Re_GSM) when the shock arrived and recorded an abrupt tail compression leading to significant enhancements in the plasma density, temperature, magnetic field strength, and cross-tail current density, as well as to tailward flows. However, ~10 min later, the spacecraft entered the sheath solar wind unexpectedly. Two hypotheses are considered: either the tail was cut off by the high solar wind ram pressure (~25-30 nPa), or the compressed tail was pushed aside by the appreciable Vy solar wind flow component imposed by the shock. OpenGGMC simulation results confirmed the second hypothesis and disclosed that for this event the magnetic pressure played a dominant role at X=-60 Re for the compression. In addition to the shock normal direction and shock compression, the anisotropic (transverse) magnetic pressure also contributed to the significant reduction of the lobe Y dimension. Therefore, during this 10 min interval, the lobe center moved dawnward by ~12 Re and the tail width in Y was reduced from 40 to 26 Re, which eventually exposed ARTEMIS to the sheath solar wind. Comparisons of plasma and magnetic parameters between ARTEMIS in situ observations and simulations showed a satisfied consistence.