Energy Characteristics of Auroral Electron Precipitation: A Comparison of Substorms and Pressure Pulse Related Auroral Activity

Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres (Impact Factor: 3.44). 02/2000; DOI: 10.1029/2000JA003027
Source: NTRS

ABSTRACT The Polar Ultraviolet Imager (UVI) observes auroral responses to incident solar wind pressure pulses and interplanetary shocks such as those associated with coronal mass ejections. The arrival of a CME pressure pulse at the front of the magnetosphere results in highly disturbed geomagnetic conditions and a substantial increase in both dayside and nightside auroral precipitation. Our observations show a simultaneous brightening over broad areas of the dayside and nightside aurora in response to a pressure pulse, indicating that more magnetospheric regions participate as sources for auroral precipitation than during isolated substorms. We estimate the average energies of incident auroral electrons using Polar UVI images and compare the precipitation energies during pressure pulse associated events to those during isolated auroral substorms. Electron precipitation during substorms has average energies greater than 10 keV and is structured both in local time and magnetic latitude. For auroral intensifications following the arrival of a pressure pulse or interplanetary shock, electron precipitation is less spatially structured and has greater ux of lower energy electrons (Eave _ 7 keV) than during isolated substorm, onsets. The average energies of the precipitating electrons inferred from UVI are consistent with those measured in-situ by the FAST spacecraft. These observations quantify the differences between global and local auroral precipitation processes and will provide a valuable experimental check for models of sudden storm commencements and magnetospheric response to perturbations in the solar wind.

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