Pulsating auroras produced by interactions of electrons and time domain structures

Previous evidence has suggested that either lower band chorus waves or kinetic Alfven waves scatter equatorial kilovolt electrons that propagate to lower altitudes where they precipitate or undergo further low-altitude scattering to make pulsating auroras. Recently, time domain structures (TDSs) were shown, both theoretically and experimentally, to efficiently scatter equatorial electrons. To assess the relative importance of these three mechanisms for production of pulsating auroras, 11 intervals of equatorial THEMIS data and a 4 h interval of Van Allen Probe measurements have been analyzed. During these events, lower band chorus waves produced only negligible modifications of the equatorial electron distributions. During the several TDS events, the equatorial 0.1\textendash3 keV electrons became magnetic field-aligned. Kinetic Alfven waves may also have had a small electron scattering effect. The conclusion of these studies is that time domain structures caused the most important equatorial scattering of ~1 keV electrons toward the loss cone to provide the main electron contribution to pulsating auroras. Chorus wave scattering may have provided part of the highest energy (>10 keV) electrons in such auroras.
Year of Publication
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Date Published