The importance of waves in space plasmas : Examples from the auroral region and the magnetopause

Sammanfattning: This thesis discusses the reasons for space exploration and space science. Space plasma physics is identified as an essential building block to understand the space environment and it is argued that observation and analysis of space plasma waves is an important approach.Space plasma waves are the main actors in many important processes. So-called broadband waves are found responsible for much of the ion heating in the auroral region. We investigate the wave properties of broadband waves and show that they can be described as a mixture of electrostatic wave modes. In small regions void of cold electrons the broadband activity is found to be ion acoustic waves and these regions are also identified as acceleration regions. The identification of the wave modes includes reconstructions of the wave distribution function. The reconstruction technique allow us to determine the wave vector spectrum, which cannot be measured directly. The method is applied to other wave events and it is compared in some detail with a similar method.Space plasma wave are also sensitive tools for investigations of both the fine-structure and the dynamics of space plasmas. Studies of whistler mode waves observed in the boundary layer on the magnetospheric side of the magnetopause reveal that the plasma is organized in tube-like structures moving with the plasma drift velocity. The perpendicular dimension of these tubes is of the order of the electron inertial length. We present evidence that each tube is linked to a reconnection site and argue that the high density of tube-like structures indicates patchy reconnection.