TERRAPUB Earth, Planets and Space

Earth Planets Space, Vol. 65 (No. 5), pp. 463-471, 2013

Ballooning modes and their stability in a near-Earth plasma

N. G. Mazur1, E. N. Fedorov1, and V. A. Pilipenko2

1Institute of Physics of the Earth, Moscow, Russia
2Space Research Institute, Moscow, Russia

(Received February 13, 2012; Revised July 21, 2012; Accepted July 22, 2012; Online published June 10, 2013)

Abstract: As a possible trigger of the substorm onset, the ballooning instability has been often suggested. The ballooning disturbances in a finite-pressure plasma immersed into a curved magnetic field are described with the system of coupled equations for the Alfven and slow magnetosonic modes. The spectral properties of ballooning disturbances and instabilities can be characterized by the local dispersion equation. The basic system of equations can be reduced to the dispersion equation for the small-scale in transverse direction disturbances. From this relationship the dispersion, instability threshold, and stop-bands of the Alfvenic and slow magnetosonic modes have been determined. The field-aligned structure of unstable mode is described with the solution of the eigenvalue problem in the Voigt model. We have also analyzed in a cylindrical geometry an eigenvalue problem for the stability of ballooning disturbances with a finite scale along the plasma inhomogeneity. The account of a finite scale in the radial direction raises the instability threshold as compared with that in the WKB approximation.
Key words: Plasma instability, substorm onset, MHD waves.

Corresponding author E-mail: pilipenk@augsburg.edu

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