The effects of the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability of the magnetosphere
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In this thesis, the behaviour of Kelvin-Helmholtz unstable modes on the magnetospheric flanks and in the magnetotail are investigated. A model of a straight bounded magnetosphere connected to a semi-infinite field-free magnetosheath which is flowing with a uniform speed is used. First the magnetosphere is taken to be uniform with the magnetic field perpendicular to the flow in the magnetosheath and it is shown that the increase in Pc5 wave power observed for high solar wind flow speeds correlates well with the onset of instability of the fast body modes. A condition for the exact onset of instability of these modes is derived and the behaviour of fast surface and slow body and surface modes is also investigated. Using a non-uniform magnetosphere, it is shown that these unstable body modes may couple to field line resonances. The fastest growing modes are found to have a common azimuthal phase speed which depends only on the local conditions at the magnetopause and may be predicted using the theory of over-reflection. A finite width boundary layer is then added to the uniform magnetosphere model to investigate the space-time evolution of wave-packets on the magnetopause. Fast surface mode wave-packets are found to grow rapidly as they convect around the flanks so that non-linear effects will be important. Fast cavity mode wave-packets will remain relatively small on the flanks, explaining the robustness of the body of the magnetosphere here. Slow modes are found to grow very little in this region. Finally, a uniform magnetosphere with the magnetic field parallel to the flow in the magnetosheath is considered. Here, the fast modes are unlikely to be Kelvin-Helmholtz unstable for realistic flow speeds, and the magnetopause boundary may be reasonably assumed to be perfectly reflecting. The low value of the plasma pressure is this region suggests that slow modes will be unimportant.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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