Articles | Volume 20, issue 11
30 Nov 2002
 | 30 Nov 2002

Cluster magnetic field observations at a quasi-parallel bow shock

E. A. Lucek, T. S. Horbury, M. W. Dunlop, P. J. Cargill, S. J. Schwartz, A. Balogh, P. Brown, C. Carr, K.-H. Fornacon, and E. Georgescu

Abstract. We present four-point Cluster magnetic field data from a quasi-parallel shock crossing which allows us to probe the three-dimensional structure of this type of shock for the first time. We find that steepened ULF waves typically have a scale larger than the spacecraft separation ( ~ 400–1000 km), while SLAMS-like magnetic field enhancements have different signatures in | B | at the four spacecraft, suggesting that they have a smaller scale size. In the latter case, however, the angular variations of B are similar, consistent with the space-craft making different trajectories through the same structure. The field enhancements have different orientations relative to a model bow shock normal, which might arise from different degrees of deceleration and deflection of the surrounding solar wind plasma. The observed rotation of the magnetic field rising from a direction approximately parallel to the model bow shock normal to a direction more perpendicular to the model normal across the field enhancement is consistent with previously published results. Successive magnetic field enhancements or ULF waves, and the leading and trailing edges of the same structure, are found to have different orientations.

Key words. Interplanetary physics (planetary bow shocks)