Kinetic-scale magnetic holes (KSMHs) are structures characterized by a significant magnetic depression with a length scale on the order of the proton gyroradius. These structures have been investigated in recent studies in near-Earth space, and found to be closely related to energy conversion and particle acceleration, wave-particle interactions, magnetic reconnection, and turbulence at the kinetic-scale. However, there are still several major issues of the KSMHs that need further study — including (a) the source of these structures (locally generated in near-Earth space, or carried by the solar wind), (b) the environmental conditions leading to their generation, and (c) their spatio-temporal characteristics. In this study, KSMHs in near-Earth space are investigated statistically using data from the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission. Approximately 200,000 events were observed from September 2015 to March 2020. Occurrence rates of such structures in the solar wind, magnetosheath, and magnetotail were obtained. We find that KSMHs occur in the magnetosheath at rates far above their occurrence in the solar wind. This indicates that most of the structures are generated locally in the magnetosheath, rather than advected with the solar wind. Moreover, KSMHs occur in the downstream region of the quasi-parallel shock at rates significantly higher than in the downstream region of the quasi-perpendicular shock, indicating a relationship with the turbulent plasma environment. Close to the magnetopause, we find that the depths of KSMHs decrease as their temporal-scale increases. We also find that the spatial-scales of the KSMHs near the subsolar magnetosheath are smaller than those in the flanks. Furthermore, their global distribution shows a significant dawn-dusk asymmetry (duskside dominating) in the magnetotail.
The purpose of this paper is to understand how low energy plasmaspheric electrons respond to ULF waves excited by interplanetary shocks impinging on magnetosphere. It is found that both energy and pitch angle dispersed plasmaspheric electrons with energy of a few eV to tens of eV can be generated simultaneously by the interplanetary shock. The subsequent period of successive dispersion signatures is around 40 s and is consistent with the ULF wave period (third harmonic). By tracing back the energy and pitch angle dispersion signatures, the position of the electron injection region is found to be off-equator at around –32° in the southern hemisphere. This can be explained as the result of injected electrons being accelerated by higher harmonic ULF waves (e.g. third harmonic) which carry a larger amplitude electric field off-equator. The dispersion signatures are due to the flux modulations (or accelerations) of " local” plasmaspheric electrons rather than electrons from the ionosphere. With the observed wave-borne large electric field excited by the interplanetary shock impact, the kinetic energy can increase to a maximum of 23 percent in one bouncing cycle for plasmaspheric electrons satisfying the drift-bounce resonance condition by taking account of both the corotating drift and bounce motion of the local plasmaspheric electron.
Magnetic reconnection is the most fundamental energy-transfer mechanism in the universe that converts magnetic energy into heat and kinetic energy of charged particles. For reconnection to occur, the frozen-in condition must break down in a localized region, commonly called the ‘diffusion region’. In Earth’s magnetosphere, ion diffusion regions have already been observed, while electron diffusion regions have not been detected due to their small scales (of the order of a few km) (Paschmann, 2008). In this paper we report, for the first time, in situ observations of an active electron diffusion region by the four Cluster spacecraft at the Earth’s high-latitude magnetopause. The electron diffusion region is characterized by nongyrotropic electron distribution, strong field-aligned currents carried by electrons and bi-directional super-Alfvénic electron jets. Also observed were multiple micro-scale flux ropes, with a scale size of about 5 c/ωpe (12 km, with c/ωpe the electron inertial length), that are crucial for electron acceleration in the guide-field reconnection process (Drake et al., 2006a). The data demonstrate the existence of the electron diffusion region in collisionless guide-field reconnection at the magnetopause.
Previous studies have shown that the ionospheric responses to a solar flare are significantly dependent on the solar zenith angle (SZA): the ionospheric responses are negatively related to the SZAs. The largest enhancement in electron density always occurs around the subsolar point. However, from 2001 to 2014, the global distribution of total electron content (TEC) responses showed no obvious relationship between the increases in TEC and the SZA during some solar flares. During these solar flares, the greatest enhancements in TEC did not appear around the subsolar point, but rather far away from the subsolar point. The distribution of TEC enhancements showed larger TEC enhancements along the same latitude. The distribution of anomalous ionospheric responses to the solar flares was not structured the same as traveling ionospheric disturbances. This anomaly distribution was also unrelated to the distribution of background neutral density. It could not be explained by changes in the photochemical process induced by the solar flares. Thus, the transport process could be one of the main reasons for the anomaly distribution of ionospheric responses to the solar flares. This anomaly distribution also suggests that not only the photochemical process but also the transport process could significantly affect the variation in ionospheric electron density during some solar flares.