Evidence of Alfvenic Poynting flux as the primary driver of auroral motion during a geomagnetic substorm
Abstract Geomagnetic substorms are major energy transfer events where energy stored in the Earths magnetotail is released into the ionosphere. Substorm phenomena, including auroral activities, earthward Poynting flux, magnetic field dipolarization, etc, have been extensively studied. However, the complex interplay among them is not fully understood. In a fortuitous event on June 07, 2013, the twin Van Allen Probes (separated by 0.4 hour in local time) observed bursts of earthward Alfvenic Poynting flux in the vicinity of the plasma sheet boundary layer (PSBL). The Poynting flux bursts correlate with enhancements of auroral brightness around the footpoints of both spacecraft. This indicates a temporal and spatial correlation between the auroral brightening and Poynting flux bursts, and that the auroral motion is directly linked to the perpendicular expansion of the Alfven wave. These observations suggest that the Alfvenic Poynting flux is a primary driver for the auroral electron acceleration. Around the time of auroral brightening, a dipolarization was seen to propagate more than 4 hours in local time during a 20 min period. The azimuthal phase speed of this dipolarization (2 deg/min) is too small to explain the azimuthal motion of the aurora (13.6 deg/min), but the dipolarization could be related to the generation of the Alfvenic Poynting flux through phase mixing at strong density gradients like those in the PSBL. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
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