A case study of plasma structure in the dusk sector associated with enhanced magnetospheric convection

In a case study from June 8–9, 1982, data from ground whistler stations Siple and Halley, Antarctica, located at L ∼4.3 and spaced by ∼2 hours in MLT, and from satellites DE 1 and GEOS 2, have provided confirming evidence that the bulge region of the magnetosphere can exhibit an abrupt westward “edge,” as reported earlier from whistlers. The present data and previous MHD modeling work suggest that this distinctive feature develops during periods of steady or declining substorm activity, when dense plasma previously carried sunward under the influence of enhanced convection activity begins to rotate with the Earth at angular velocities that decrease with increasing L value and becomes spirallike in form. For the first time, whistler data have been used to identify a narrow dense plasma feature, separated from the main plasmasphere and extending sunward into the late afternoon sector at L values near the outer observed limits of the main plasmasphere bulge. The westward edge of the main bulge, found by both whistler stations to be at ∼1800 MLT, appeared to be quasi-stationary in Sun-Earth coordinates during the prevailing conditions of gradually declining geomagnetic agitation. It is possible that outlying dense plasma features such as the one observed develop as part of the process leading to the occurrence of the more readily detectable abrupt westward edge of the bulge. It was not possible in this case to determine the extent to which the outlying feature was smoothly attached to or isolated from the main bulge region.


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Authors: Carpenter, D.L., Smith, A.J., Giles, B.L., Chappell, C.R., Décréau, P.M.E.

1 February, 1992
Journal of Geophysical Research / 97
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