Link between pre-midnight second harmonic poloidal waves and auroral undulations: Conjugate observations with a Van Allen Probes spacecraft and a THEMIS all-sky imager

We report, for the first time, an auroral undulation event on 1 May 2013 observed by an all-sky imager (ASI) at Athabasca (L = 4.6), Canada, for which in situ field and particle measurements in the conjugate magnetosphere were available from a Van Allen Probes spacecraft. The ASI observed a train of auroral undulation structures emerging spontaneously in the pre-midnight subauroral ionosphere, during the growth phase of a substorm. The undulations had an azimuthal wavelength of ~180 km and propagated westward at a speed of 3\textendash4 km s-1. The successive passage over an observing point yielded quasi-periodic oscillations in diffuse auroral emissions with a period of ~40 s. The azimuthal wave number m of the auroral luminosity oscillations was found to be m ~ -103. During the event the spacecraft \textendash being on tailward stretched field lines ~0.5 RE outside the plasmapause that mapped into the ionosphere conjugate to the auroral undulations \textendash encountered intense poloidal ULF oscillations in the magnetic and electric fields. We identify the field oscillations to be the second harmonic mode along the magnetic field line through comparisons of the observed wave properties with theoretical predictions. The field oscillations were accompanied by oscillations in proton and electron fluxes. Most interestingly, both field and particle oscillations at the spacecraft had one-to-one association with the auroral luminosity oscillations around its footprint. Our findings strongly suggest that this auroral undulation event is closely linked to the generation of second harmonic poloidal waves
Year of Publication
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Date Published