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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 19, issue 1
Ann. Geophys., 19, 1–9, 2001
© Author(s) 2001. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 19, 1–9, 2001
© Author(s) 2001. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  31 Jan 2001

31 Jan 2001

Dawn-dusk asymmetry in particles of solar wind origin within the magnetosphere

T. J. Stubbs2,1, M. Lockwood2, P. Cargill1, J. Fennell3, M. Grande2, B. Kellett2, C. Perry2, and A. Rees1 T. J. Stubbs et al.
  • 1Space & Atmospheric Physics, The Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College, London, SW7 2BW, United Kingdom
  • 2Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Chilton, Didcot, Oxfordshire, OX11 0QX, United Kingdom
  • 3The Aerospace Corporation, Mail Station M2-259, PO Box 92957, Los Angeles, CA 90009, U.S.A.
  • Correspondence to: T. J. Stubbs (

Abstract. Solar wind/magnetosheath plasma in the magnetosphere can be identified using a component that has a higher charge state, lower density and, at least soon after their entry into the magnetosphere, lower energy than plasma from a terrestrial source. We survey here observations taken over 3 years of He2+ ions made by the Magnetospheric Ion Composition Sensor (MICS) of the Charge and Mass Magnetospheric Ion Composition Experiment (CAMMICE) instrument aboard POLAR. The occurrence probability of these solar wind ions is then plotted as a function of Magnetic Local Time (MLT) and invariant latitude (7) for various energy ranges. For all energies observed by MICS (1.8–21.4 keV) and all solar wind conditions, the occurrence probabilities peaked around the cusp region and along the dawn flank. The solar wind conditions were filtered to see if this dawnward asymmetry is controlled by the Svalgaard-Mansurov effect (and so depends on the BY component of the interplanetary magnetic field, IMF) or by Fermi acceleration of He2+ at the bow shock (and so depends on the IMF ratio BX /BY ). It is shown that the asymmetry remained persistently on the dawn flank, suggesting it was not due to effects associated with direct entry into the magnetosphere. This asymmetry, with enhanced fluxes on the dawn flank, persisted for lower energy ions (below a "cross-over" energy of about 23 keV) but reversed sense to give higher fluxes on the dusk flank at higher energies. This can be explained by the competing effects of gradient/curvature drifts and the convection electric field on ions that are convecting sunward on re-closed field lines. The lower-energy He2+ ions E × B drift dawnwards as they move earthward, whereas the higher energy ions curvature/ gradient drift towards dusk. The convection electric field in the tail is weaker for northward IMF. Ions then need less energy to drift to the dusk flank, so that the cross-over energy, at which the asymmetry changes sense, is reduced.

Key words. Magnetospheric physics (magnetospheric configuration and dynamics; magnetopause, cusp, and boundary layers) – Space plasma physics (charged particle motion and acceleration)

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