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The ion temperature gradient: An intrinsic property of Earth's magnetotail


Lu, San
Artemyev, A. V.
Angelopoulos, Vassilis
Lin, Yu
Wang, Xueyi


Although the ion temperature gradient along (X GSM) and across (Z GSM) the Earth's magnetotail, which plays a key role in generating the cross‐tail current and establishing pressure balance with the lobes, has been extensively observed by spacecraft, the mechanism responsible for its formation is still unknown. We use multispacecraft observations and three‐dimensional (3‐D) global hybrid simulations to reveal this mechanism. Using THEMIS (Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms), Geotail, and ARTEMIS (Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of Moon's Interaction with the Sun) observations during individual, near‐simultaneous plasma sheet crossings from 10 to 60 R E , we demonstrate that the ion temperature Z GSM profile is bell‐shaped at different geocentric distances. This Z GSM profile is also prevalent in statistics of ~200 THEMIS current sheet crossings in the near‐Earth region. Using 3‐D global hybrid simulations, we show that mapping of the X GSM gradient of ion temperature along magnetic field lines produces such a bell‐shaped profile. The ion temperature mapping along magnetic field lines in the magnetotail enables construction of two‐dimensional distributions of these quantities from vertical (north‐south) spacecraft crossings. Our findings suggest that the ion temperature gradient is an intrinsic property of the magnetotail that should be considered in kinetic descriptions of the magnetotail current sheet. Toward this goal, we use theoretical approaches to incorporate the temperature gradient into kinetic current sheet models, making them more realistic.