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Generation of Turbulence in Kelvin-Helmholtz Vortices at the Earth's Magnetopause: Magnetospheric Multiscale Observations

Abstract : The Kelvin-Helmholtz instability (KHI) at Earth's magnetopause and associated turbulence are suggested to play a role in the transport of mass and momentum from the solar wind into Earth's magnetosphere. We investigate electromagnetic turbulence observed in Kelvin-Helmholtz vortices encountered at the dusk flank magnetopause by the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft under northward interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) conditions in order to reveal its generation process, mode properties, and role. A comparison with another MMS event at the dayside magnetopause with reconnection but no KHI signatures under a similar IMF condition indicates that while high-latitude magnetopause reconnection excites a modest level of turbulence in the dayside low-latitude boundary layer, the KHI further amplifies the turbulence, leading to magnetic energy spectra with a power law index -5/3 at magnetohydrodynamic scales even in its early nonlinear phase. The mode of the electromagnetic turbulence is analyzed with a single-spacecraft method based on Ampère's law, developed by Bellan (2016, https://doi.org/10.1002/2016JA022827), for estimating wave vectors as a function of spacecraft frame frequency. The results suggest that the turbulence does not consist of propagating normal-mode waves but is due to interlaced magnetic flux tubes advected by plasma flows in the vortices. The turbulence at sub-ion scales in the early nonlinear phase of the KHI may not be the cause of the plasma transport across the magnetopause but rather a consequence of three-dimensional vortex-induced reconnection, the process that can cause an efficient transport by producing tangled reconnected field lines.
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Submitted on : Friday, May 20, 2022 - 10:25:19 AM
Last modification on : Monday, July 4, 2022 - 8:43:30 AM

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H. Hasegawa, T. K. M. Nakamura, D. Â. J. Gershman, Y. Nariyuki, A. Â. F. - Viñas, et al.. Generation of Turbulence in Kelvin-Helmholtz Vortices at the Earth's Magnetopause: Magnetospheric Multiscale Observations. Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, 2020, 125, ⟨10.1029/2019JA027595⟩. ⟨insu-03673165⟩

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