Lower-hybrid drift waves and electromagnetic electron space-phase holes associated with dipolarization fronts and field-aligned currents observed by the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission during a substorm

We analyse two ion scale dipolarization fronts associated with field-aligned currents detected by the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission during a large substorm on August 10, 2016. The first event corresponds to a fast dawnward flow with an anti-parallel current and could be generated by the wake of a previous fast earthward flow. It is associated with intense lower-hybrid drift waves detected at the front and propagating dawnward with a perpendicular phase speed close to the electric drift and the ion thermal velocity. The second event corresponds to a flow reversal: from southwward/dawnward to northward/duskward associated with a parallel current consistent with a brief expansion of the plasma sheet before the front crossing, and with a smaller lower-hybrid drift wave activity. Electromagnetic electron phase-space holes are detected near these low-frequency drift waves during both events. The drift waves could accelerate electrons parallel to the magnetic field and produce the parallel electron drift needed to generate the electron holes. Yet, we cannot rule out the possibility that the drift waves are produced by the anti-parallel current associated with the fast flows, leaving the source for the electron holes unexplained.
Year of Publication
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Date Published