|Grandin, M., Connor, H. K., Hoilijoki, S., Battarbee, M., Pfau-Kempf, Y., Ganse, U., Papadakis, K., and Palmroth, M. (2024). Hybrid-Vlasov simulation of soft X-ray emissions at the Earth’s dayside magnetospheric boundaries. Earth Planet. Phys., 8(1), 70–88. doi: 10.26464/epp2023052
Solar wind charge exchange produces emissions in the soft X-ray energy range which can enable the study of near-Earth space regions such as the magnetopause, the magnetosheath and the polar cusps by remote sensing techniques. The Solar wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer (SMILE) and Lunar Environment heliospheric X-ray Imager (LEXI) missions aim to obtain soft X-ray images of near-Earth space thanks to their Soft X-ray Imager (SXI) instruments. While earlier modeling works have already simulated soft X-ray images as might be obtained by SMILE SXI during its mission, the numerical models used so far are all based on the magnetohydrodynamics description of the space plasma. To investigate the possible signatures of ion-kinetic-scale processes in soft X-ray images, we use for the first time a global hybrid-Vlasov simulation of the geospace from the Vlasiator model. The simulation is driven by fast and tenuous solar wind conditions and purely southward interplanetary magnetic field. We first produce global X-ray images of the dayside near-Earth space by placing a virtual imaging satellite at two different locations, providing meridional and equatorial views. We then analyze regional features present in the images and show that they correspond to signatures in soft X-ray emissions of mirror-mode wave structures in the magnetosheath and flux transfer events (FTEs) at the magnetopause. Our results suggest that, although the time scales associated with the motion of those transient phenomena will likely be significantly smaller than the integration time of the SMILE and LEXI imagers, mirror-mode structures and FTEs can cumulatively produce detectable signatures in the soft X-ray images. For instance, a local increase by 30% in the proton density at the dayside magnetopause resulting from the transit of multiple FTEs leads to a 12% enhancement in the line-of-sight- and time-integrated soft X-ray emissivity originating from this region. Likewise, a proton density increase by 14% in the magnetosheath associated with mirror-mode structures can result in an enhancement in the soft X-ray signal by 4%. These are likely conservative estimates, given that the solar wind conditions used in the Vlasiator run can be expected to generate weaker soft X-ray emissions than the more common denser solar wind. These results will contribute to the preparatory work for the SMILE and LEXI missions by providing the community with quantitative estimates of the effects of small-scale, transient phenomena occurring on the dayside.