Conjugate observations of traveling convection vortices: the field-aligned current system

Analysis of a single traveling convection vortex (TCV) event that combines magnetometer, auroral imager, and riometer observations from conjugate hemispheres provides a complete view of the field-aligned current (FAC) system associated with the TCV. Conjugate observations clearly show that the TCV is a pair of FACs that flow alternatively out of and then into both ionospheres. Imaging observations at 427.8 nm indicate that the upward FAC region is associated with a narrow arc 50-100 km wide and at least 600 km long. Mapping the imaging observations made in the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere shows excellent collocation of the precipitation with the flow vortex associated with the upward FAC as inferred from a large two-dimensional network of magnetometers. Also consistent with the flows inferred from the magnetometers, the arc is found to be skewed with respect to the direction of motion of the transient. Low-altitude spacecraft passes near the time of the event suggest that the FAC is coincident with, and possibly confined to, a relatively narrow region (less than 3 in latitude) in which 1-10 keV electrons characteristic of the central plasma sheet are present.


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Authors: Murr, D.L., Hughes, W.J., Rodger, A.S., Zesta, E., Frey, H.U., Weatherwax, A.T.

1 January, 2002
Journal of Geophysical Research / 107
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