Pc 1 waves and associated unstable distributions of magnetospheric protons observed during a solar wind pressure pulse


We present observations of Pc 1 waves (∼0.6 Hz) that occurred shortly after a strong (>20 nPa) compression of Earth's magnetosphere at 1321 UT, 18 March 2002. Intense Pc 1 waves were observed at several high-latitude ground stations in Antarctica and Greenland from 1321 UT to beyond 1445 UT. Two wave bursts were recorded at the Polar satellite at 1338 and 1343–1344 UT as it passed outbound in the Southern Hemisphere at 1154 local time (SM magnetic latitude of −22° and near L = 7.5) in good magnetic conjunction with the Antarctic. The pressure increase created a significant population of protons between a few hundred eV and several keV, whose fluxes were mostly perpendicular to B. These protons seem to have replaced the quiescent stream of protons (presumably convected from the plasma sheet) that existed before this increase. There was also a nearly two-order-of-magnitude increase in the population of thermal/suprathermal (0.32–410 eV) protons. The generation of ion cyclotron waves is expected to limit the proton temperature anisotropy A, defined as T⊥/T∥ − 1. The ion cyclotron instability driven by the observed hot ion temperature anisotropy is studied using two models, with and without the presence of cold background plasma. Peaks in the calculated instability as a function of time show excellent agreement with the times of the Polar wave bursts, which were measured a few tens of seconds after maxima in the instability calculation. The time delay is consistent with the propagation time to the spacecraft from a source nearer to the equatorial plane. The hot proton population at Polar appears to be driven back to stability by a sudden increase in very field-aligned protons having energies less than the hot perpendicular population, suggesting a different source for the two populations. These observations confirm the importance of both the energization and/or increase in population of protons transverse to B in the several keV range (possibly betatron acceleration as a result of the pressure pulse), and the presence of greatly increased fluxes of lower energy protons (100s of eV to a few keV), predominantly aligned along B, in determining whether the particle population is unstable at a given time.

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JGR: Space Physics



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