Articles | Volume 23, issue 10
30 Nov 2005
 | 30 Nov 2005

Excitation of field line resonances by sources outside the magnetosphere

A. D. M. Walker

Abstract. Field line resonances are thought to be excited by sources either at the magnetopause or outside it. Recent observations suggest that they may be associated with coherent oscillations or pressure pulses in the solar wind. In either case the excitation mechanism can be understood by considering the incidence of a harmonic wave on the magnetopause from outside the magnetosphere. Calculations are performed in a plane stratified model that consists of (i) a magnetosheath region streaming tailward at uniform velocity (ii) a sharp boundary representing the magnetopause, (iii) a magnetosphere region in which the Alfvén speed increases monotonically with distance from the magnetopause. The structure implies the existence of a propagating region within the magnetopause bounded by a reflection level or turning point. Beyond this is a region in which waves are evanescent and a resonance level. The reflection and transmission of harmonic waves incident from the magnetosheath is considered in this model. It is shown that, in most cases, because of the mismatch between the magnetosphere and the magnetopause, the wave is reflected from the magnetopause with little penetration. At critical frequencies corresponding to the natural frequencies of the cavity formed between the magnetopause and turning point the signal excites the cavity and may leak evanescently to the resonance. The calculation includes the effect of the counter-streaming magnetosheath and magnetosphere plasmas on the wave. This can lead to amplification or attenuation. The nature of the processes that lead to transmission of the wave from magnetosheath to resonance are considered by synthesising the signal from plane wave spectra. A number of mechanisms for exciting cavity modes are reviewed and the relationship of the calculations to these mechanisms are discussed. Observations needed to discriminate between the mechanisms are specified.