The theoretical foundation of 3-D Alfvén resonances: time-dependent solutions

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We present results from a 3-D numerical simulation which investigates the coupling of fast and Alfvén magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) waves in a nonuniform dipole equilibrium. This represents the time-dependent extension of the normal mode (∝ exp(−iωt)) analysis of Wright and Elsden (2016), and provides a theoretical basis for understanding 3-D Alfvén resonances. Wright and Elsden (2016) show that these are fundamentally different to resonances in 1D and 2D. We demonstrate the temporal behavior of the Alfvén resonance, which is formed within the "Resonant Zone"; a channel of the domain where a family of solutions exists such that the natural Alfvén frequency matches the fast-mode frequency. At early times, phase mixing leads to the production of prominent ridges in the energy density, whose shape is determined by the Alfvén speed profile and the chosen background magnetic field geometry. These off resonant ridges decay in time, leaving only a main 3-D resonant sheet in the steady state. We show that the width of the 3-D resonance in time and in space can be accurately estimated by adapting previous analytical estimates from 1-D theory. We further provide an analytical estimate for the resonance amplitude in 3-D, based upon extending 2-D theory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3247-3261
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number3
Early online date20 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


  • Magnetosphere
  • ULF waves
  • Alfvén waves
  • MHD
  • Resonance


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