• Particle dynamics in the plasma sheet

      Wagner, John S. (1978-08)
      Trajectories of charged particles in the tail region of the earth's magnetosphere are studied using a model magnetic field. The particles form a thin sheet-like structure in the magnetotail called the plasma sheet. It is shown that most trajectories are categorized by two dimensionless parameters. One of them is equal to the ratio of the cross-tail electric force to the magnetic force in the midplane and determines the maximum particle energization. The other parameter is the ratio of the plasma sheet thickness to the particle gyroradius in the midplane and determines the degree to which the particle motion is adiabatic. All previous attempts at studying trajectories in the magnetotail are shown to be applicable only over limited ranges of the two parameters. Hence those studies are combined into a common framework, and those trajectories which have not been studied previously are added for completeness.