Modeling of Different Scenarios of Thin Current Sheet Equilibria in the Earth’s Magnetotail
The Earth’s magnetosphere is an open dynamic system permanently interacting with the solar wind, i.e., the plasma flow from the Sun. Some plasma processes in the magnetosphere are of spontaneous explosive character, while others develop rather slowly as compared to the characteristic times of plasma particle motion in it. The large-scale current sheet in the magnetotail can be in an almost equilibrium state both in quiet periods and during geomagnetic perturbations, and its variations can be considered quasistatic. Thus, under some conditions, the magnetotail current sheet can be described as an equilibrium plasma system. Its state depends on various parameters, in particular, on those determining the dynamics of charged particles. Knowing the main governing parameters, one can study the structure and properties of the current sheet equilibrium. This work is devoted to the self-consistent modeling of the equilibrium thin current sheet (TCS) of the Earth’s magnetotail, the thickness of which is comparable with the ion gyroradius. The main objective of this work is to examine how the TCS structure depends on the parameters characterizing the particle dynamics and magnetic field geometry. A numerical hybrid self-consistent TCS model in which the tension of magnetic field lines is counterbalanced by the inertia of ions moving through the sheet is constructed. The ion dynamics is considered in the quasi-adiabatic approximation, while the electron motion, in the conductive fluid approximation. Depending on the values of the adiabaticity parameter κ (which determines the character of plasma particle motion) and the dimensionless normal component of the magnetic field , the following two scenarios are considered: (A) the adiabaticity parameter is proportional to the particle energy and = const and (B) the particle energy is fixed and the adiabaticity parameter is proportional to . The structure of the current sheet and particle dynamics in it are studied as functions of the parameters κ and . It is shown that, in scenario A, the current sheet thickness decreases with increasing adiabaticity parameter due to a decrease in the ion gyroradius. Accordingly, the radius of curvature of magnetic field lines decreases, which leads to an increase in the contribution of electron drift currents near the neutral plane z = 0. Numerical simulations demonstrate that current equilibria can exist if the adiabaticity parameter lies in the range . At κ ~ 0.7, the contribution of electron drift currents to the total current density is much larger than the contribution of ions and the ion motion becomes chaotic. At larger values of the adiabaticity parameter, no equilibrium solutions were found in the framework of the given one-dimensional model. Therefore, the value κ = 0.7 corresponds to the upper applicability limit of the quasi-adiabatic model of the current sheet. In scenario B, an increase in the parameter κ leads to the appearance of a large number of quasi-trapped ions in the current sheet, due to which the current sheet thickens and the amplitude of the current density decreases. As a result, equilibrium solutions exist in a much narrower range of the adiabaticity parameter, . Consequences of the existence of parametric boundaries of equilibrium solutions for the TCS under actual geomagnetic conditions are discussed.