Formation of the oxygen torus in the inner magnetosphere: Van Allen Probes observations

We study the formation process of an oxygen torus during the 12\textendash15 November 2012 magnetic storm, using the magnetic field and plasma wave data obtained by Van Allen Probes. We estimate the local plasma mass density (ρL) and the local electron number density (neL) from the resonant frequencies of standing Alfv\ en waves and the upper hybrid resonance band. The average ion mass (M) can be calculated by M \~ ρL/neL under the assumption of quasi-neutrality of plasma. During the storm recovery phase, both Probe A and Probe B observe the oxygen torus at L = 3.0\textendash4.0 and L = 3.7\textendash4.5, respectively, on the morning side. The oxygen torus has M = 4.5\textendash8 amu and extends around the plasmapause that is identified at L\~3.2\textendash3.9. We find that during the initial phase, M is 4\textendash7 amu throughout the plasma trough and remains at \~1 amu in the plasmasphere, implying that ionospheric O+ ions are supplied into the inner magnetosphere already in the initial phase of the magnetic storm. Numerical calculation under a decrease of the convection electric field reveals that some of thermal O+ ions distributed throughout the plasma trough are trapped within the expanded plasmasphere, whereas some of them drift around the plasmapause on the dawnside. This creates the oxygen torus spreading near the plasmapause, which is consistent with the Van Allen Probes observations. We conclude that the oxygen torus identified in this study favors the formation scenario of supplying O+ in the inner magnetosphere during the initial phase and subsequent drift during the recovery phase.
Year of Publication
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Date Published