Spontaneous generation of self-organized solitary wave structures at Earth's magnetopause

R. Trines, R. Bingham, M. W. Dunlop, A. Vaivads, J. A. Davies, J. T. Mendonça, L. O. Silva, P. K. Shukla

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Spontaneous formation of solitary wave structures has been observed in Earth’s magnetopause, and is shown to be caused by the breakup of a zonal flow by the action of drift wave turbulence. Here we show matched observations and modeling of coherent, large-scale solitary electrostatic structures, generated during the interaction of short-scale drift wave turbulence and zonal flows at the Earth’s magnetopause. The observations were made by the Cluster spacecraft and the numerical modeling was performed using the wave-kinetic approach to drift wave-zonal flow interactions. Good agreement between observations and simulations has been found, thus explaining the emergence of the observed solitary structures as well as confirming earlier theoretical predictions of their existence.
Original languageEnglish
Article number205006
Number of pages4
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2007


  • computer simulation
  • electrostatics
  • numerical methods
  • turbulent flow

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