On the origin of field-aligned beams at the quasi-perpendicular bow shock: multi-spacecraft observations by Cluster
- 1Department of Physics and Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space (EOS) University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824, USA
- 2MPI für extraterrestrische Physik, Garching, Germany
- 3Imperial College, London, UK
- 4CESR, Toulouse, France
Abstract. Two distinct populations of reflected and accelerated ions are known to originate from quasi-perpendicular shocks, gyrating ions and reflected ion beams. Recent observations under such bow shock conditions with Cluster have shown strong evidence that both particle distributions appear to emerge from the same reflection process. In this paper the basic production mechanism of field-aligned beams has been investigated by using CLUSTER multi-spacecraft measurements. We have analyzed several quasi-perpendicular shocks with the Cluster Ion Spectrometry experiment (CIS) and followed the spatial and temporal evolution of the reflected and transmitted ion populations across the shock. These observations show that the field-aligned beams most likely result from effective scattering in pitch angle during reflection in the shock ramp. Investigating a low Mach number shock, leakage of a fraction of the thermalized ion distribution in the downstream region does not appear to be the source as the volume in phase space occupied by beam ions is empty downstream of the shock ramp.