The Dissipation of Turbulence in the Earth's Magnetotail

Julia Stawarz
University of Colorado Boulder
Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences

Bursty bulk flow (BBF) events, frequently observed in the magnetotail, carry significant energy and mass from the tail region at distances > 20 Earth radii to the near-Earth plasma sheet at 10 Earth radii where the flow is slowed and/or diverted.

Since the plasma in this environment is collisionless, the energy in the turbulent fluctuations within these events must be dissipated through a non-viscous/non-resistive process. In this presentation, we consider a mechanism where energy is dissipated through the destabilization of field-aligned currents generated by the turbulence into nonlinear electrostatic structures, which can then accelerate particles. Observations from the THEMIS spacecraft provide support for this mechanism.

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