The subsolar magnetosheath and magnetopause for high solar wind ram pressure: WIND observations

T. D. Phan, D. E. Larson, R. P. Lin, J. P. McFadden, K. A. Anderson, C. W. Carlson, R. E. Ergun, S. M. Ashford, M. P. McCarthy, G. K. Parks, H. Rème, J. M. Bosqued, C. D'Uston, K.-P. Wenzel, T. R. Sanderson, and A. Szabo

Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720


On a rapid inward pass through the subsolar magnetosheath (MSH) and magnetopause (MP), the WIND spacecraft initially encountered a moderately-compressed low-magnetic shear MP (at a radial distance of 8.6 RE), followed by multiple crossings of a high-shear MP (at 8.2. RE). The large shear resulted from a southward turning of the external MSG field. Strong magnetic field pile-up, a plasma depletion layer (PDL), and plasma flow acceleration and rotation to become more perpendicular to the local magnetic field were observed in the MSG on approach to the low-shear MP. At the high-shear MP, magnetic reconnection flows were detected, and there are some indications that plasma depletion effects were weak or absent in the adjacent MSH. We attribute the changes in the MP and MSH properties to the sudden rotation of the MSH field direction. In essence, the structure of the MP regions under the unusually high solar wind ram pressure condition in this case does not seem to be qualitatively different from that observed under more typical (less compressed) conditions. Also similar to previous observations, the mirror mode is marginally unstable in the MSH proper, but is stable in the PDL. In this region, the proton temperature anisotropy is inversely correlated with b p | | . Finally, the electron distributions are observed to anisotropic (Te ^ /Te | | ~ 1.3) throughout the entire MSH.

Geophys. Res. Lett., Vol. 23, No. 10, 1279-1282, 1996