On the Existence of Subsonic Solitary Waves Associated with Reconnection Jets in Earth’s Magnetotail: Astrophysical Journal

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Abstract

The Magnetospheric Multiscale Spacecraft (MMS) has detected the signature of electrostatic solitary waves (ESWs) occurring in the reconnection jet site of the Earth’s magnetotail (Liu et al.). These observations have motivated us to explore the mechanism underlying the formation of fast- and slow-mode ion-acoustic solitary waves in the magnetotail region. To this end, we have formulated a three-component magnetized plasma model consisting of nonthermal electrons and two cold ion beams streaming parallel and antiparallel to the magnetic field, respectively. In this work, we have examined the existence conditions for ion-acoustic subsonic waves in a suprathermal space plasma comprising two counterstreaming (drifting) ion beams interacting with a suprathermal electron background. An exact (nonperturbative) nonlinear technique has been adopted to examine the role of the beam velocity and the spectral index on the evolution of subsonic waves. Linear analysis reveals that subsonic waves are unstable when the beam velocity is lower than a threshold value; hence in this regime, only conventional supersonic (fast) waves are formed. On the other hand, when the beam velocity exceeds the threshold, either supersonic or subsonic waves may exist. The combined impact of the beam velocity and electron superthermality on the characteristics of subsonic solitary waves has been analyzed. Our results are shown to be in good agreement with observations of slow ESWs by the MMS spacecraft. Our findings will help to unfold the so-far unexplored dynamical characteristics of subsonic waves that may occur in the reconnection site of Earth’s magnetotail. © 2023. The Author(s). Published by the American Astronomical Society.
Original languageBritish English
JournalAstrophys. J.
Volume957
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

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