Electron mirror branch: observational evidence from “historical” AMPTE-IRM and Equator-S measurements

Treumann, Rudolf A.; Baumjohann, Wolfgang

Based on now “historical” magnetic observations, supported by few available plasma data, and wave spectra from the AMPTE-IRM spacecraft, and also on “historical” Equator-S high-cadence magnetic field observations of mirror modes in the magnetosheath near the dayside magnetopause, we present observational evidence for a recent theoretical evaluation by citxref_text.1#bib1.bibx22Noreen et al. (#bib1.bibx222017) of the contribution of a global (bulk) electron temperature anisotropy to the evolution of mirror modes, giving rise to a separate electron mirror branch. We also refer to related low-frequency lion roars (whistlers) excited by the trapped resonant electron component in the high-temperature anisotropic collisionless plasma of the magnetosheath. These old data most probably indicate that signatures of the anisotropic electron effect on mirror modes had indeed already been observed long ago in magnetic and wave data, though they had not been recognised as such. Unfortunately either poor time resolution or complete lack of plasma data would have inhibited the confirmation of the required pressure balance in the electron branch for unambiguous confirmation of a separate electron mirror mode. If confirmed by future high-resolution observations (like those provided by the MMS mission), in both cases the large mirror mode amplitudes suggest that mirror modes escape quasilinear saturation, being in a state of weak kinetic plasma turbulence. As a side product, this casts as erroneous the frequent claim that the excitation of lion roars (whistlers) would eventually saturate the mirror instability by depleting the bulk temperature anisotropy. Whistlers, excited in mirror modes, just flatten the anisotropy of the small population of resonant electrons responsible for them, without having any effect on the global electron-pressure anisotropy, which causes the electron branch and by no means at all on the ion-mirror instability. For the confirmation of both the electron mirror branch and its responsibility for trapping of electrons and resonantly exciting high-frequency whistlers, also known as lion roars, high time- and energy-resolution observations of electrons (as provided for instance by MMS) are required.



Treumann, Rudolf A. / Baumjohann, Wolfgang: Electron mirror branch: observational evidence from “historical” AMPTE-IRM and Equator-S measurements. 2018. Copernicus Publications.


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