Four-Spacecraft Magnetic Curvature and Vorticity Analyses on Kelvin-Helmholtz Waves in MHD Simulations
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
American Geophysical Union (AGU) / Wiley
©2018. The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Four-spacecraft missions are probing the Earth's magnetospheric environment with high potential for revealing spatial and temporal scales of a variety of in situ phenomena. The techniques allowed by these four spacecraft include the calculation of vorticity and the magnetic curvature analysis (MCA), both of which have been used in the study of various plasma structures. Motivated by curved magnetic field and vortical structures induced by Kelvin- Helmholtz (KH) waves, we investigate the robustness of the MCA and vorticity techniques when increasing (regular) tetrahedron sizes, to interpret real data. Here for the first time, we test both techniques on a 2.5-D MHD simulation of KH waves at the magnetopause. We investigate, in particular, the curvature and flow vorticity across KH vortices and produce time series for static spacecraft in the boundary layers. The combined results of magnetic curvature and vorticity further help us to understand the development of KH waves. In particular, first, in the trailing edge, the magnetic curvature across the magnetopause points in opposite directions, in the wave propagation direction on the magnetosheath side and against it on the magnetospheric side. Second, the existence of a "turnover layer" in the magnetospheric side, defined by negative vorticity for the duskside magnetopause, which persists in the saturation phase, is reminiscent of roll-up history. We found significant variations in the MCA measures depending on the size of the tetrahedron. This study lends support for cross-scale observations to better understand the nature of curvature and its role in plasma phenomena.
R. K. acknowledges financial support from CEMPS at the University of Exeter. C. F. acknowledges financial support from the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) under her Advanced Fellowship ST/I003649.
This is the final version of the article. Available from AGU/Wiley via the DOI in this record.
Published online 3 January 2018