Plasma Physics of the Local Cosmos

Committee on Solar and Space Physics

Space Studies Board

Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, D.C.
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Plasma Physics of the Local Cosmos Plasma Physics of the Local Cosmos Committee on Solar and Space Physics Space Studies Board Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu

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Plasma Physics of the Local Cosmos THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by Contracts NASW-96013 and NASW-01001 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the agency that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number 0-309-09215-9 (POD) International Standard Book Number 0-309-53215-9 (PDF) Cover—Top: The aurora australis (southern lights) photographed from the International Space Station on April 18, 2003. Courtesy of Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center. Bottom: Conceptual representation of the heliosphere and the solar system’s immediate galactic environment. Distances in astronomical units (AU) are indicated on a logarithmic scale. (1 AU is the mean distance between the Sun and the Earth, or roughly 150,000,000 kilometers.) Courtesy of P. Liewer (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) and R. Mewaldt (California Institute of Technology). Copies of this report are available free of charge from: Space Studies Board National Research Council 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2004 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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Plasma Physics of the Local Cosmos THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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Plasma Physics of the Local Cosmos OTHER REPORTS OF THE SPACE STUDIES BOARD Issues and Opportunities Regarding the U.S. Space Program: A Summary Report of a Workshop on National Space Policy (2004) “Assessment of NASA’s Draft 2003 Earth Science Enterprise Strategy” (2003) “Assessment of NASA’s Draft 2003 Space Science Enterprise Strategy” (2003) Satellite Observations of the Earth’s Environment: Accelerating the Transition of Research to Operations (2003) Steps to Facilitate Principal-Investigator-Led Earth Science Missions (2003) The Sun to the Earth—and Beyond: Panel Reports (2003) Assessment of Directions in Microgravity and Physical Sciences Research at NASA (2002) Assessment of the Usefulness and Availability of NASA’s Earth and Space Science Mission Data (2002) Factors Affecting the Utilization of the International Space Station for Research in the Biological and Physical Sciences (2002) Life in the Universe: An Assessment of U.S. and International Programs in Astrobiology (2002) New Frontiers in the Solar System: An Integrated Exploration Strategy (2002) Review of NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise Applications Program Plan (2002) “Review of the Redesigned Space Interferometry Mission (SIM)” (2002) Safe on Mars: Precursor Measurements Necessary to Support Human Operations on the Martian Surface (2002) The Sun to the Earth—and Beyond: A Decadal Research Strategy in Solar and Space Physics (2002) Toward New Partnerships in Remote Sensing: Government, the Private Sector, and Earth Science Research (2002) Using Remote Sensing in State and Local Government: Information for Management and Decision Making (2002) Assessment of Mars Science and Mission Priorities (2001) The Mission of Microgravity and Physical Sciences Research at NASA (2001) The Quarantine and Certification of Martian Samples (2001) Readiness Issues Related to Research in the Biological and Physical Sciences on the International Space Station (2001) “Scientific Assessment of the Descoped Mission Concept for the Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST)” (2001) Signs of Life: A Report Based on the April 2000 Workshop on Life Detection Techniques (2001) Transforming Remote Sensing Data into Information and Applications (2001) U.S. Astronomy and Astrophysics: Managing an Integrated Program (2001) Limited copies of these reports are available free of charge from: Space Studies Board The National Academies 500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001 (202) 334-3477 ssb@nas.edu www.nationalacademies.org/ssb/ssb.html NOTE: Listed according to year of approval for release.

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Plasma Physics of the Local Cosmos COMMITTEE ON SOLAR AND SPACE PHYSICS JAMES L. BURCH, Southwest Research Institute, Chair CLAUDIA J. ALEXANDER, Jet Propulsion Laboratory VASSILIS ANGELOPOULOS, University of California, Berkeley ANTHONY CHAN, Rice University ANDREW F. CHENG, Johns Hopkins University JAMES F. DRAKE, JR., University of Maryland, College Park JOHN C. FOSTER, Massachusetts Institute of Technology STEPHEN A. FUSELIER, Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center SARAH GIBSON, National Center for Atmospheric Research CRAIG KLETZING, University of Iowa GANG LU, National Center for Atmospheric Research BARRY H. MAUK, Johns Hopkins University FRANK B. McDONALD, University of Maryland, College Park EUGENE N. PARKER, University of Chicago, Professor Emeritus ROBERT W. SCHUNK, Utah State University GARY P. ZANK, University of California, Riverside Staff ARTHUR CHARO, Study Director WILLIAM S. LEWIS,1 Consultant THERESA M. FISHER, Senior Program Assistant 1   On temporary assignment from Southwest Research Institute.

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Plasma Physics of the Local Cosmos SPACE STUDIES BOARD LENNARD A. FISK, University of Michigan, Chair GEORGE A. PAULIKAS, The Aerospace Corporation (retired), Vice Chair J. ROGER P. ANGEL, University of Arizona ANA P. BARROS, Harvard University RETA F. BEEBE, New Mexico State University ROGER D. BLANDFORD, Stanford University JAMES L. BURCH, Southwest Research Institute RADFORD BYERLY, JR., University of Colorado HOWARD M. EINSPAHR, Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute (retired) STEVEN H. FLAJSER, Loral Space and Communications, Ltd. MICHAEL H. FREILICH, Oregon State University DON P. GIDDENS, Georgia Institute of Technology/Emory University DONALD INGBER, Harvard Medical School RALPH H. JACOBSON, The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory (retired) TAMARA E. JERNIGAN, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory MARGARET G. KIVELSON, University of California, Los Angeles CALVIN W. LOWE, Bowie State University BRUCE D. MARCUS, TRW, Inc. (retired) HARRY Y. McSWEEN, JR., University of Tennessee DENNIS W. READEY, Colorado School of Mines ANNA-LOUISE REYSENBACH, Portland State University ROALD S. SAGDEEV, University of Maryland CAROLUS J. SCHRIJVER, Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory ROBERT J. SERAFIN, National Center for Atmospheric Research MITCHELL SOGIN, Marine Biological Laboratory C. MEGAN URRY, Yale University J. CRAIG WHEELER, University of Texas, Austin JOSEPH K. ALEXANDER, Director

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Plasma Physics of the Local Cosmos Preface This report originated in 1999 as a result of discussions between the Committee on Solar and Space Physics (CSSP) and officials within NASA’s Office of Space Science Sun-Earth Connections program. As noted in the statement of task (Appendix A), the objective of the study was to provide a scientific assessment and strategy for the study of magnetized plasmas in the solar system. By emphasizing the connections between locally occurring (solar system) structures and processes and their astrophysical counterparts, the study would contribute to a unified view of cosmic plasma behavior. An additional objective was to relate basic scientific studies of plasmas to studies of the Sun’s influence on Earth’s space environment. The study was under way when the Space Studies Board was asked in early 2000 to conduct a decadal survey in solar and space physics. The CSSP stood down during the next 18 months as all of its members served on either the study’s Survey Committee or one of its five study panels. A pre-print of the Survey Committee’s report was delivered to agency sponsors in August 2002. The Survey Committee’s report and a separate volume containing the reports of the survey’s five panels were published in 2003. While part of the original intent of this study was accomplished by the decadal survey—the Survey Committee and panel reports provide priorities and strategies for future program activities—members of CSSP completed this report to address the other objectives. The present report differs substantially from an initial draft that was completed prior to the commencement of the survey activities. In particular, CSSP defers to the Survey Committee’s report for recommendations and endorses those. The committee views this report as a primer that will provide a unified view of the field and show its connections to other scientific disciplines, especially astrophysics. The audience for the report includes scientists working in fields outside but related to space physics, graduate students in space physics, agency officials, and interested congressional staff and members of the public.

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Plasma Physics of the Local Cosmos Acknowledgment of Reviewers This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Amitava Bhattacharjee, University of Iowa, Joachim Birn, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Timothy E. Eastman, Plasmas International, J.R. Jokipii, University of Arizona, Andrew F. Nagy, University of Michigan, Robert Rosner, University of Chicago, and Michelle F. Thomsen, Los Alamos National Laboratory. Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Mihaly Horanyi, University of Colorado. Appointed by the National Research Council, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

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Plasma Physics of the Local Cosmos Contents     EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   1 1   OUR LOCAL COSMIC LABORATORY   5      Contributions to Understanding Cosmic Plasmas   6      The Importance of Magnetic Fields in the Universe   7      Local Plasma Astrophysics   7      Notes   10 2   CREATION AND ANNIHILATION OF MAGNETIC FIELDS   11      Magnetic Field Creation: Dynamo Theory   12      Creation of Magnetic Fields in the Sun   14      Planetary Dynamos   15      Magnetic Field Annihilation: Reconnection Theory   18      Magnetic Reconnection in the Sun’s Corona   21      Magnetic Reconnection in Earth’s Magnetosphere   22      The Role of Laboratory Experiments   26      Concluding Remarks   26      Notes   26 3   FORMATION OF STRUCTURES AND TRANSIENTS   28      Collisionless Shocks   29      Cellular Structures and Current Sheets   32      Current Sheet Structuring: Boundary Layers and Flux Ropes   37      Cross-Scale Coupling   39      Universality of Structures and Transients   42      Notes   44

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Plasma Physics of the Local Cosmos 4   PLASMA INTERACTIONS   46      Electromagnetic Interactions   47      Flow-Object Interactions   49      Plasma-Neutral Interactions   53      Radiation-Plasma Interactions   54      Summary   54      Notes   56 5   EXPLOSIVE ENERGY CONVERSION   57      Storage-Release in the Sun’s Corona   59      Storage-Release in Earth’s Magnetotail   61      Universality of Storage-Release Mechanisms   63      Notes   64 6   ENERGETIC PARTICLE ACCELERATION   65      Shock Acceleration   65      Coherent Electric Field Acceleration   68      Stochastic Particle Acceleration   74      Summary   75      Notes   76 7   CONCLUDING THOUGHTS   77     APPENDIXES         A   Statement of Task   81     B   Study Groups   83     C   Acronyms and Abbreviations   85