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Liu, C. M.; Fu, H. S.; Cao, J. B.; Xu, Y.; Yu, Y. Q.; Kronberg, E. A.; Daly, P. W. (2017): Rapid Pitch Angle Evolution of Suprathermal Electrons Behind Dipolarization Fronts. In: Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 44, Nr. 20: S. 10116-10124
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Abstract

The pitch angle distribution (PAD) of suprathermal electrons can have both spatial and temporal evolution in the magnetotail and theoretically can be an indication of electron energization/cooling processes there. So far, the spatial evolution of PAD has been well studied, leaving the temporal evolution as an open question. To reveal the temporal evolution of electron PAD, spacecraft should monitor the same flux tube for a relatively long period, which is not easy in the dynamic magnetotail. In this study, we present such an observation by Cluster spacecraft in the magnetotail behind a dipolarization front (DF). We find that the PAD of suprathermal electrons can evolve from pancake type to butterfly type during <4 s and then to cigar type during <8 s. During this process, the flow velocity is nearly zero and the plasma entropy is constant, meaning that the evolution is temporal. We interpret such temporal evolution using the betatron cooling process, which is driven by quasi-adiabatic expansion of flux tubes, and the magnetic mirror effect, which possibly exists behind the DF as well.