Cluster observations of electrostatic solitary waves near the Earth's bow shock

Y. Hobara, S. N. Walker, M. Balikhin, O. A. Pokhotelov, M. Gedalin, V. Krasnoselskikh, M. Hayakawa, M. André, M. Dunlop, H. Rème, A. Fazakerley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations

Abstract

Using a period of internal burst mode data from the Cluster Electric Field and Wave instrument a number of electrostatic solitary structures have been identified in the foot region of Earth's quasi-perpendicular bow shock. The four individual probe potential measurements are utilized to investigate the fundamental characteristics of the solitary wave structures such as wave propagation vector, propagation velocity, scale-size and potential amplitude. Two classes of waves are observed. Bipolar solitary waves typically propagate in the solar wind direction toward the shock but at a significant angle from the ambient magnetic field. Unipolar/tripolar solitary waves tend to propagate along the ambient magnetic field. The wave amplitude-scale size relation is similar to that obtained for similar structures observed in the auroral zone. The structures lie in the theoretically allowed region in width-amplitude space to be consistent with the BGK ion holes. Using a period of internal burst mode data from the Cluster Electric Field and Wave instrument a number of electrostatic solitary structures have been identified in the foot region of Earth's quasi-perpendicular bow shock. The four individual probe potential measurements are utilized to investigate the fundamental characteristics of the solitary wave structures such as wave propagation vector, propagation velocity, scale-size and potential amplitude. Two classes of waves are observed. Bipolar solitary waves typically propagate in the solar wind direction toward the shock but at a significant angle to the ambient magnetic field in contrast to most previous studies which assume parallel propagation to the ambient magnetic field. In contrast, unipolar/tripolar solitary waves tend to propagate along the ambient magnetic field. The wave amplitude-scale size relation is similar to that obtained for structures observed in the auroral zone. The structures lie in the theoretically allowed region in width-amplitude space to be consistent with the BGK (Bernstein-Greene-Kruskal) ion holes. The two classes of observed solitary waves may greatly influence the ambient plasma dynamics around the shock. The bipolar solitary waves do not exhibit a large net potential difference but may still play an important role in plasma thermalisation by particle scattering. Unipolar/tripolar solitary waves exhibit a remarkable net potential difference that may be responsible for the plasma energisation along the ambient magnetic field.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA05211
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Volume113
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 May 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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