Two important differences between the giant magnetospheres (i.e., Jupiter's and Saturn's magnetospheres) and the terrestrial magnetosphere are the internal plasma sources and the fast planetary rotation. Thus, there must be a radially outward flow to transport the plasma to avoid infinite accumulation of plasma. This radial outflow also carries the magnetic flux away from the inner magnetosphere due to the frozen‐in condition. As such, there also must be a radial inward flow to refill the magnetic flux in the inner magnetosphere. Due to the similarity between Rayleigh‐Taylor (RT) instability and the centrifugal instability, we use a three‐dimensional RT instability to demonstrate that an interchange instability can form a convection flow pattern, locally twisting the magnetic flux, consequently forming a pair of high‐latitude reconnection sites. This process exchanges a part of the flux tube, thereby transporting the plasma radially outward without requiring significant latitudinal convection of magnetic flux in the ionosphere.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
American Geophysical Union
Grant or Award Name
NASA grant NNX13AF22G
Scholarly Commons Citation
Ma, X., P. A. Delamere, and A. Otto (2016), Plasma transport driven by the Rayleigh-Taylor instability, J. Geophys. Res. Space Physics, 121, 5260–5271, doi:10.1002/2015JA022122