Articles | Volume 30, issue 1
Ann. Geophys., 30, 1–7, 2012

Special issue: Dynamical processes in space plasmas

Ann. Geophys., 30, 1–7, 2012

ANGEO Communicates 03 Jan 2012

ANGEO Communicates | 03 Jan 2012

Super fast plasma streams as drivers of transient and anomalous magnetospheric dynamics

S. Savin1, E. Amata2, L. Zelenyi1, V. Lutsenko1, J. Safrankova3, Z. Nemecek3, N. Borodkova1, J. Buechner4, P. W. Daly4, E. A. Kronberg4, J. Blecki5, V. Budaev1,7, L. Kozak6, A. Skalsky1, and L. Lezhen1 S. Savin et al.
  • 1IKI, Lab545, Moscow, Russia
  • 2IFSI-INAF, Rome, Italy
  • 3Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
  • 4Max-Planck Inst. Solar Physics, Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany
  • 5Space Research Center, Warsaw, Poland
  • 6Kyiv Taras Shevchenko University, Ukraine
  • 7NRC Kurchatov Institute, Moscow, Russia

Abstract. We present multi spacecraft measurements in the magnetosheath (MSH) and in the solar wind (SW) by Interball, Cluster and Polar, demonstrating that coherent structures with magnetosonic Mach number up to 3 – Supermagnetosonic Plasma Streams (SPS) – generate transient and anomalous boundary dynamics, which may cause substantial displacements of the magnetospheric boundaries and the riddling of peripheral boundary layers. In this regard, for the first time, we describe a direct plasma penetration into the flank boundary layers, which is a candidate for being the dominant transport mechanism for disturbed MSH periods.

Typically SPS's have a ram pressure exceeding by several times that of the SW and lead to long-range correlations between processes at the bow shock (BS) and at the magnetopause (MP) on one side and between MSH and MP boundary layers on the other side. We demonstrate that SPS's can be observed both near the BS and near the MP and argue that they are often triggered by hot flow anomalies (HFA), which represent local obstacles to the SW flow and can induce the SPS generation as a means for achieving a local flow balance. Finally, we also discuss other causes of SPS's, both SW-induced and intrinsic to the MSH.

SPS's appear to be universal means for establishing a new equilibrium between flowing plasmas and may also prove to be important for astrophysical and fusion applications.