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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 13, issue 4
Ann. Geophys., 13, 343–357, 1995
© European Geosciences Union 1995
Ann. Geophys., 13, 343–357, 1995
© European Geosciences Union 1995

  30 Apr 1995

30 Apr 1995

Density and magnetic field fluctuations observed by ISEE 1-2 in the quiet magnetosheath

C. Lacombe, G. Belmont, D. Hubert, C. C. Harvey, A. Mangeney, C. T. Russell, J. T. Gosling, and S. A. Fuselier C. Lacombe et al.

Abstract. We analyse the fluctuations of the electron density and of the magnetic field in the Earth's magnetosheath to identify the waves observed below the proton gyrofrequency. We consider two quiet magnetosheath crossings i.e. 2 days characterized by small-amplitude waves, for which the solar wind dynamic pressure was low. On 2 August 1978 the spacecraft were in the outer magnetosheath. We compare the properties of the observed narrow-band waves with those of the unstable linear wave modes calculated for an homogeneous plasma with Maxwellian electron and bi-Maxwellian (anisotropic) proton and alpha particle distributions. The Alfvén ion cyclotron (AIC) mode appears to be dominant in the data, but there are also density fluctuations nearly in phase with the magnetic fluctuations parallel to the magnetic field. Such a phase relation can be explained neither by the presence of a proton or helium AIC mode nor by the presence of a fast mode in a bi-Maxwellian plasma. We invoke the presence of the helium cut-off mode which is marginally stable in a bi-Maxwellian plasma with α particles: the observed phase relation could be due to a hybrid mode (proton AIC+helium cut-off ) generated by a non-Maxwellian or a non-gyrotropic part of the ion distribution functions in the upstream magnetosheath. On 2 September 1981 the properties of the fluctuations observed in the middle of the magnetosheath can be explained by pure AIC waves generated by protons which have reached a bi-Maxwellian equilibrium. For a given wave mode, the phase difference between B\Vert and the density is sensitive to the shape of the ion and electron distribution functions: it can be a diagnosis tool for natural and simulated plasmas.

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