Magnetospheric VLF line radiation observed at Halley, Antarctica

Spectrograms of broad-band ELF/VLF goniometer data obtained from ground based measurements made at Halley, Antarctica (L = 4.3, conjugate near St. Anthony, Newfoundland) have shown the presence of discrete line radiation of magnetospheric origin, in the frequency range 1–4 kHz. The properties of this radiation are broadly similar to Power Line Harmonic Radiation (PLHR), studied from ground based observations made at Siple, Antarctica (L = 4.1, conjugate—Roberval, Quebec), although there are some interesting differences. Line radiation observed at Halley, is never regularly spaced in frequency by 120 Hz, as one may expect if signals from the Newfoundland power distribution system (60 Hz fundamental) are entering the magnetosphere, and being amplified. Instead, frequency spacings are widely distributed about mean values between 50 and 90 Hz. The lines are observed to trigger emissions and often exhibit 2 hop amplitude modulation, which demonstrates that they are of magnetospheric origin. Events occur mostly in quiet to moderate geomagnetic conditions, and during the late afternoon period of local time. Arrays of lines are often observed to drift upwards together in frequency. Line bandwidths are 20–30 Hz—much larger than the bandwidths of locally generated induction lines. We show that the line spacing of ∼80 Hz is too large to correspond to sideband separation for waves of equatorial field strength ∼10 pT, and we investigate the conditions required for effective particle trapping by the wave array, of the type described by Nunn, 1974. It is proposed that the line radiation either originates in the signals which enter the magnetosphere from Newfoundland, or is “naturally” generated, possibly by a linear instability which takes place if the electron distribution function has sharp localised gradients in pitch angle.


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Authors: Matthews, J.P., Yearby, K.

1 January, 1981
Planetary and Space Science / 29
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