Two classes of earthward fast flows in the plasma sheet

J. H. Shue, A. Ieda, A. T.Y. Lui, G. K. Parks, T. Mukai, S. Ohtani

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Abstract

In this study we first identify earthward plasma sheet fast flows from Geotail plasma and magnetic fields with a criterion of V⊥x > 300 km/s, where V⊥x is the X component of the plasma flow perpendicular to the ambient magnetic field. We then estimate rates of change of the nightside auroral power over the courses of the fast flows using Polar Ultraviolet Imager auroral images. It is found that 68 earthward fast flows observed at |Y| < 6 RE during 1997-1998 can be classified into two classes. One class of the earthward fast flows (Class I) was often observed near X = ∼-10 RE and the other class (Class II) was found at X < - 15 RE. The auroral power rates of change of the fast flows in Class I in terms of time are found to be high, indicating that the total auroral power on the nightside was significantly increasing during these fast flows. The corresponding auroral images show an apparent substorm bulge developed on the nightside, i.e., a significant global auroral development. The auroral power rates for most of the earthward fast flows in Class II are low. The auroral features, such as poleward boundary intensifications and pseudobreakups, are found to be associated with these fast flows. Some of the earthward fast flows in Class II can propagate earthward and provide a favorable condition for a substorm onset, leading to an auroral bulge developed on the nightside. We have also tested another criterion of VxBz > 2 mV/m for an identification of fast flows, where Vx is the X component of the plasma flow and B2 is the Z component of the geomagnetic field. It is found that V_x is a better parameter than VxBz to differentiate the two classes of earthward fast flows in the plasma sheet.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA02205
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Volume113
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2008

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