Development of the Near-Earth Magnetotail and the Auroral Arc Associated with Substorm Onset: Evidence for a New Model
Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
We have studied the time sequence of the development of the near-Earth magnetotail and the auroral arc associated with a substorm onset, using the data from the THEMIS spacecraft and ground-based observatories at high temporal and spatial resolutions. We discuss four steps of the auroral development, linking them to magnetotail changes: the auroral fading, the initial brightening of an auroral onset arc, the enhancement of the wave-like structure, and the poleward expansion. A case study shows that near-Earth magnetic reconnection began at X~-17 RE at least ~3 min before the auroral initial brightening and ~1 min before the auroral fading. Ionospheric large-scale convection also became enhanced just before the auroral fading and before the auroral initial brightening. Then low-frequency waves were amplified in the plasma sheet at X~-10 RE, with the pressure increase due to the arrival of the earthward flow from the near-Earth reconnection site ~20 s before the enhancement of the auroral wave-like structure. Finally, the dipolarization began ~30 s before the auroral poleward expansion. On the basis of the present observations, we suggest that near-Earth magnetic reconnection plays two roles in the substorm triggering. First, it generates a fast earthward flow and Alfvén waves. When the Alfvén waves which propagate much faster than the fast flow reach the ionosphere, large-scale ionospheric convection is enhanced, leading to the auroral initial brightening and subsequent gradual growth of the auroral wave-like structure. Second, when the reconnection-initiated fast flow reaches the near-Earth magnetotail, it promotes rapid growth of an instability, such as the ballooning instability, and the auroral wave-like structure is further enhanced. When the instability grows sufficiently, the dipolarization and the auroral poleward expansion are initiated.