Magnetospheric Multi-Scale (MMS) Observations and simulations of high-energy electrons in the dayside magnetosheath
PI Heidi Nykyri
The key objective of this study is to better understand the source and cause of high-energy electrons observed by the MMS in the dayside magnetosheath.
The key objective of this study is to better understand the source and cause of high-energy electrons observed by the MMS in the dayside magnetosheath. The Magnetospheric Multi-Scale (MMS) mission is a four-spacecraft constellation orbiting in formation around Earth with a main goal to study the microphysics of magnetic reconnection at the dayside magnetopause. Recent MMS observations showed high energy (40 keV) electrons leaking into the magnetosheath. However, the dominant leaking mechanism has not been fully understood. Global Lyon-Fedder-Mobarry (LFM) with test particle simulations suggest that low latitude reconnection and the nonlinear Kelvin-Helmholtz (KH) instability can cause the leak of high energy electrons into the magnetosheath. But it is important to notice that many of the electrons leaking events were observed close to Fall Equinox when the MMS orbit has a significant y-component and the z_GSM coordinate can be substantial (up to ~7 R_E). Therefore, MMS high-energy electron events may have a high-latitude source. For instance, it is well demonstrated that magnetic reconnection between the Interplanetary Magnetic Field (IMF) and Earth's magnetic field surrounding the cusps can lead to the formation of cusp diamagnetic cavities (Nykyri et al., JGR 2011a,b; Adamson et al., angeo 2011), extended regions of decreased magnetic field, which can be filled with higher energy (>30 keV) electrons, protons and O+ ions. Cluster observations revealed 90-degree pitch angle electrons in the cavity, strongly suggestive of a local acceleration mechanism (Walsh, angeo 2010; Nykyri et al, JASTP 2012). Test particle simulations in a high-resolution 3D cusp model uncovered that trapped particles in the diamagnetic cavities can be accelerated when their drift paths go through regions of "reconnection quasi-potential" (Nykyri et al, JASTP 2012). Once the IMF orientation changes it is possible for trapped particles in the cavity to end up into the loss cone and "leak out" of the cavity. A systematic approach to our science objective addresses the following compelling science questions by synergy using MMS observational data and numerical simulation.
11/01/2018 to 08/31/2022