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- Moments of plasma distributions observed in the magnetotail vary with different time scales. In this paper we attempt to explain the observed variability on intermediate timescales of approximately 10-20 min that result from the simultaneous energization and spatial structuring of solar wind plasma in the distant magnetotail. These processes stimulate the formation of a system of spatially disjointed. highly accelerated filaments (beamlets) in the tail. We use the results from large-scale kinetic modeling of magnetotail formation from a plasma mantle source to calculate moments of ion distribution functions throughout the tail. Statistical restrictions related to the limited number of particles in our system naturally reduce the spatial resolution of our results, but we show that our model is valid on intermediate spatial scales Delta(x) x Delta(z) equal to approximately 1 R(sub E) x 1000 km. For these spatial scales the resulting pattern, which resembles a mosaic, appears to be quite variable. The complexity of the pattern is related to the spatial interference between beamlets accelerated at various locations within the distant tail which mirror in the strong near-Earth magnetic field. Global motion of the magnetotail results in the displacement of spacecraft with respect to this mosaic pattern and can produce variations in all of the moments (especially the x-component of the bulk velocity) on intermediate timescales. The results obtained enable us to view the magnetotail plasma as consisting of two different populations: a tailward-Earthward system of highly accelerated beamlets interfering with each other, and an energized quasithermal population which gradually builds as the Earth is approached. In the near-Earth tail, these populations merge into a hot quasi-isotropic ion population typical of the near-Earth plasma sheet. The transformation of plasma sheet boundary layer (PSBL) beam energy into central plasma sheet (CPS) quasi-thermal energy occurs in the absence of collisions or noise. This paper also clarifies the relationship between the global scale where an MHD description might be appropriate and the lower intermediate scales where MHD fails and large-scale kinetic theory should be used.
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- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 19960003846.
Accession ID: 96N13856.
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