23 Nov 2021

23 Nov 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ANGEO.

Magnetospheric Response to Solar Wind Forcing: ULF Wave – Particle Interaction Perspective

Qiugang Zong1,2, Qiugang Zong
  • 1Institute of Space Physics and Applied Technology, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • 2Polar Research Institute of China, 5 Shanghai 200136, China
  • Invited contribution by Qiugang Zong, recipient of the EGU Hannes Alfvén Medal 2020.

Abstract. Solar wind forcing, e.g. interplanetary shock and/or solar wind dynamic pressure pulses impact on the Earth’s magnetosphere manifests many fundamental important space physics phenomena including producing electromagnetic waves, plasma heating and energetic particle acceleration. This paper summarizes our present understanding of the magnetospheric response to solar wind forcing in the aspects of radiation belt electrons, ring current ions and plasmaspheric plasma physics based on in situ spacecraft measurements, ground-based magnetometer data, MHD and kinetic simulations.

Magnetosphere response to solar wind forcing, is not just a “one-kick” scenario. It is found that after the impact of solar wind forcing on the Earth’s magnetosphere, plasma heating and energetic particle acceleration started nearly immediately and could last for a few hours. Even a small dynamic pressure change of interplanetary shock or solar wind pressure pulse can play a non-negligible role in magnetospheric physics. The impact leads to generate series kind of waves including poloidal mode ultra-low frequency (ULF) waves. The fast acceleration of energetic electrons in the radiation belt and energetic ions in the ring current region response to the impact usually contains two contributing steps: (1) the initial adiabatic acceleration due to the magnetospheric compression; (2) followed by the wave-particle resonant acceleration dominated by global or localized poloidal ULF waves excited at various L-shells.

Generalized theory of drift and drift-bounce resonance with growth or decay localized ULF waves has been developed to explain in situ spacecraft observations. The wave related observational features like distorted energy spectrum, boomerang and fishbone pitch angle distributions of radiation belt electrons, ring current ions and plasmaspheric plasma can be explained in the frame work of this generalized theory. It is worthy to point out here that poloidal ULF waves are much more efficient to accelerate and modulate electrons (fundamental mode) in the radiation belt and charged ions (second harmonic) in the ring current region. The results presented in this paper can be widely used in solar wind interacting with other planets such as Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, and other astrophysical objects with magnetic fields.

Qiugang Zong

Status: open (until 04 Jan 2022)

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Qiugang Zong

Qiugang Zong


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Short summary
Magnetospheric physics is at an extremely vibrant phase with a number of ongoing and highly-successful missions, e.g. Cluster, THEMIS, Van Allen Probes, and MMS spacecraft, providing the most amazing observations and data sets. Since there are many fundamental and unsolved problems, in this paper I have addressed selected topics of ULF wave - charged particle interactions, which encompass many special fields of radiation belt, ring current and plasmaspheric physics.