The purpose of this paper is to understand how low energy plasmaspheric electrons respond to ULF waves excited by interplanetary shocks impinging on magnetosphere. It is found that both energy and pitch angle dispersed plasmaspheric electrons with energy of a few eV to tens of eV can be generated simultaneously by the interplanetary shock. The subsequent period of successive dispersion signatures is around 40 s and is consistent with the ULF wave period (third harmonic). By tracing back the energy and pitch angle dispersion signatures, the position of the electron injection region is found to be off-equator at around –32° in the southern hemisphere. This can be explained as the result of injected electrons being accelerated by higher harmonic ULF waves (e.g. third harmonic) which carry a larger amplitude electric field off-equator. The dispersion signatures are due to the flux modulations (or accelerations) of " local” plasmaspheric electrons rather than electrons from the ionosphere. With the observed wave-borne large electric field excited by the interplanetary shock impact, the kinetic energy can increase to a maximum of 23 percent in one bouncing cycle for plasmaspheric electrons satisfying the drift-bounce resonance condition by taking account of both the corotating drift and bounce motion of the local plasmaspheric electron.
Magnetic reconnection is the most fundamental energy-transfer mechanism in the universe that converts magnetic energy into heat and kinetic energy of charged particles. For reconnection to occur, the frozen-in condition must break down in a localized region, commonly called the ‘diffusion region’. In Earth’s magnetosphere, ion diffusion regions have already been observed, while electron diffusion regions have not been detected due to their small scales (of the order of a few km) (Paschmann, 2008). In this paper we report, for the first time, in situ observations of an active electron diffusion region by the four Cluster spacecraft at the Earth’s high-latitude magnetopause. The electron diffusion region is characterized by nongyrotropic electron distribution, strong field-aligned currents carried by electrons and bi-directional super-Alfvénic electron jets. Also observed were multiple micro-scale flux ropes, with a scale size of about 5 c/ωpe (12 km, with c/ωpe the electron inertial length), that are crucial for electron acceleration in the guide-field reconnection process (Drake et al., 2006a). The data demonstrate the existence of the electron diffusion region in collisionless guide-field reconnection at the magnetopause.