Simultaneous observation of two isolated proton auroras at subauroral latitudes by a highly sensitive all-sky camera and Van Allen Probes

Abstract Isolated proton auroras (IPAs) appearing at subauroral latitudes are generated by energetic protons precipitating from the magnetosphere through interaction with electromagnetic ion cyclotron (EMIC) waves. An IPA thus indicates the spatial scale and temporal variation of wave–particle interactions in the magnetosphere. In this study, a unique event of simultaneous ground and magnetospheric satellite observations of two IPAs were conducted on March 16, 2015, using an all-sky imager at Athabasca, Canada and Van Allen Probes. The Van Allen Probes observed two isolated EMIC waves with frequencies of ∼1 and 0.4 Hz at L ≈ 5.0 when the satellite footprint crossed over the two IPAs. This suggests that the IPAs were caused by localized EMIC waves. Proton flux at 5–20 keV increased locally when the EMIC waves appeared. Electron flux at energies below ∼500 eV also increased. Temperature anisotropy of the energetic protons was estimated as 1.5–2.5 over a wide L-value range of 3.0–5.2. Electron density gradually decreased from L = 3.5 to L = 5.4, suggesting that the EMIC wave at L ≈ 5.0 was located in the gradual plasmapause. From these observations, we conclude that the localized IPAs and associated EMIC waves took place because of localized enhancement of energetic proton flux and plasma density structure near the plasmapause. The magnetic field observed by the satellite showed small variation during the wave observation, indicating that the IPAs were accompanied by the weak field-aligned current.
Year of Publication
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Number of Pages
Date Published