Pulsating midmorning auroral arcs, filamentation of a mixing region in a flank boundary layer, and ULF waves observed during a Polar-Svalbard conjunction


Magnetically conjugate observations by the HYDRA and the Magnetic Field Experiment instruments on Polar, meridian-scanning photometers and all-sky imagers at Ny-Ålesund, and International Monitor for Auroral Geomagnetic Effects (IMAGE) magnetometers on November 30, 1997, illustrate aspects of magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling at 0900–1000 magnetic local times (MLT) and 70°–80° magnetic latitudes and their dependence on interplanetary parameters. Initially, Polar crossed a boundary layer on closed field lines where magnetospheric and magnetosheath plasmas are mixed. This region contains filaments where magnetospheric electron and ion fluxes are enhanced. These filaments are associated with field-aligned current structures embedded within the large-scale region 1 (R1) current. Ground auroral imagery document the presence at this time of discrete, east–west aligned arcs, which are in one-to-one correspondence with the filaments. Temporal variations present in these auroral arcs correlate with Pc 5 pulsations and are probably related to modulations in the interplanetary electric field. The auroral observations indicate that the filamented mixing region persisted for many tens of minutes, suggesting a spatial structuring. The data suggest further that the filamented, mixing region is an important source of the R1 current and the associated midmorning arcs. When the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) turned strongly north, Polar had entered the dayside extension of the central plasma sheet/region 2 current system where it and the underlying ground magnetometers recorded a clear field line resonance of frequency ∼2.4 mHz (Pc 5 range). The source of these oscillations is most likely the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability. Subsequent to the IMF northward turning, the multiple arcs were replaced by a single auroral form to the north of Ny-Ålesund (at 1000 MLT) in the vicinity of the westward edge of the cusp. ULF pulsation activity changed to the Pc 3–4 range in the regime of the pulsating diffuse aurora when the IMF went to an approximately Parker spiral orientation and the ground stations had rotated into the MLT sector of cusp emissions.

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JGR: Space Physics



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