Ion Trapping and Acceleration at Dipolarization Fronts: High-Resolution MHD/Test-Particle Simulations

Much of plasma heating and transport from the magnetotail into the inner magnetosphere occurs in the form of mesoscale discrete injections associated with sharp dipolarizations of magnetic field (dipolarization fronts). In this paper we investigate the role of magnetic trapping in acceleration and transport of the plasmasheet ions into the ring current. For this purpose we use high-resolution global MHD and three-dimensional test-particle simulations. It is shown that trapping, produced by sharp magnetic field gradients at the interface between dipolarizations and the ambient plasma, affect plasmasheet protons with energies above approximately 10 keV, enabling their transport across more than 10 Earth radii and acceleration by a factor of 10. Our estimates show that trapping is important to the buildup of the ring current plasma pressure of injected particles; depending on the plasmasheet temperature and energy spectrum, trapped protons can contribute between 20\% to 60\% of the plasma pressure. It is also shown that the acceleration process does not conserve the particle first invariant; on average protons are accelerated to higher energies compared to a purely adiabatic process. We also investigate how trapping and energization varies for deferent ions species and show that, in accordance with recent observations, ion acceleration is proportional to the ion charge and is independent of its mass.
Year of Publication
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Date Published