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Ion nose spectral structures observed by the Van Allen Probes

AuthorFerradas, C.; Zhang, J.-C.; Spence, H.; Kistler, L.; Larsen, B.; Reeves, G.; Skoug, R.; Funsten, H.;
Keywordsinner magnetosphere; ion injection; Ion structure; plasma sheet; ring current; Van Allen Probes
AbstractWe present a statistical study of nose-like structures observed in energetic hydrogen, helium, and oxygen ions near the inner edge of the plasma sheet. Nose structures are spectral features named after the characteristic shapes of energy bands or gaps in the energy-time spectrograms of in situ measured ion fluxes. Using 22 months of observations from the Helium Oxygen Proton Electron (HOPE) instrument onboard Van Allen Probe A, we determine the number of noses observed, and the minimum L-shell reached and energy of each nose on each pass through the inner magnetosphere. We find that multiple noses occur more frequently in heavy ions than in H+, and are most often observed during quiet times. The heavy-ion noses penetrate to lower L shells than H+ noses and there is an energy-magnetic local time (MLT) dependence in the nose locations and energies that is similar for all species. The observations are interpreted using a steady-state model of ion drift in the inner magnetosphere. The model is able to explain the energy and MLT dependence of the different types of nose structures. Different ion charge exchange lifetimes are the main cause for the deeper penetration of heavy-ion noses. The species dependence and preferred geomagnetic conditions of multiple-nose events indicate that they must be on long drift paths, leading to strong charge-exchange effects. The results provide important insight into the spatial distribution, species dependence, and geomagnetic conditions under which nose structures occur.
Year of Publication2016
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Number of Pages
Date Published11/2016