Event Title

Global Simulations of the Asymmetry in Forming Kelvin-Helmholtz Instability at Mercury

Location

Yosemite National Park

Start Date

2-14-2014 12:00 PM

End Date

2-14-2014 12:15 PM

Description

MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) is the first spacecraft to provide data from the orbit of Mercury. After the probe’s insertion into the orbit on March 2011, the in situ measurements revealed a dawn dusk asymmetry in the observations of Kelvin-Helmholtz (KH) instability. This instability forms at the magnetopause boundary due to the high shear of the plasma flows. The asymmetry in the observations is unexpected and largely unexplained, although it has been speculated that finite ion gyroradius effect plays an important role. The large gyroradius implies that kinetic effects are important and thus must be taken into account. We employ global ion hybrid kinetic simulations to obtain a 2D model of Mercury’s magnetosphere. This code treats ions as particles and follows the full trajectory while electrons act as a charge neutralizing fluid. The planet is treated as the perfect conductor placed in the streaming solar wind to form a quasi steady state of the magnetosphere. By placing a virtual probe in the simulation domain we obtain time series of the plasma parameters which can be compared to the observations by the MESSENGER spacecraft. The comparison of the KH instability is remarkably close to the observations of MESSENGER; to within a factor of two. The model also confirms the asymmetry in the observations.

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Feb 14th, 12:00 PM Feb 14th, 12:15 PM

Global Simulations of the Asymmetry in Forming Kelvin-Helmholtz Instability at Mercury

Yosemite National Park

MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) is the first spacecraft to provide data from the orbit of Mercury. After the probe’s insertion into the orbit on March 2011, the in situ measurements revealed a dawn dusk asymmetry in the observations of Kelvin-Helmholtz (KH) instability. This instability forms at the magnetopause boundary due to the high shear of the plasma flows. The asymmetry in the observations is unexpected and largely unexplained, although it has been speculated that finite ion gyroradius effect plays an important role. The large gyroradius implies that kinetic effects are important and thus must be taken into account. We employ global ion hybrid kinetic simulations to obtain a 2D model of Mercury’s magnetosphere. This code treats ions as particles and follows the full trajectory while electrons act as a charge neutralizing fluid. The planet is treated as the perfect conductor placed in the streaming solar wind to form a quasi steady state of the magnetosphere. By placing a virtual probe in the simulation domain we obtain time series of the plasma parameters which can be compared to the observations by the MESSENGER spacecraft. The comparison of the KH instability is remarkably close to the observations of MESSENGER; to within a factor of two. The model also confirms the asymmetry in the observations.