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)
Yukinaga Miyashita1,2, Yasutaka Hiraki3, Vassilis Angelopoulos1, Akimasa Ieda2 and Shinobu Machida2, (1)University of California Los Angeles, Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, Los Angeles, CA, United States, (2)Nagoya University, Institute for Space-Earth Environmental Research, Nagoya, Japan, (3)University of Electro-Communications, Department of Communication Engineering and Informatics, Chofu, Japan
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.