Magnetotail flux accumulation leading to auroral expansion and a substorm current wedge: case study

Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Xiangning Chu1, Robert L McPherron1, Tung-Shin Hsu1, Vassilis Angelopoulos2, James M Weygand1, Robert J Strangeway1 and Jiang Liu1, (1)University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, United States, (2)University of California Los Angeles, Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, Los Angeles, CA, United States
Magnetotail burst busty flows, magnetic field dipolarization, and auroral poleward expansion are linked to the development of substorm current wedges (SCW). Although auroral brightening is often attributed to field-aligned currents (FACs) in the SCW produced by flow vorticity and pressure redistribution, in-situ observations addressing the mechanism that generates these currents have been scarce. Conjugate observations and modelling results utilizing magnetotail satellites, inversion technique for SCW, and auroral imagers were used to study the release, transport, and accumulation of magnetic flux by flows; dipolarization associated with substorm current wedge formation; and auroral poleward expansion during an isolated substorm on 13 February 2008. During early expansion phase, magnetic flux released by magnetic reconnection was transported by earthward flows. Some magnetic flux was accumulated in the near-Earth region, and the remainder was transported azimuthally by flow diversion. The accumulated flux created a high pressure region with vertically dipolarized and azimuthally bent magnetic field lines. The rotation of the magnetic field lines was consistent with the polarity of the SCW. In the near-Earth region, good agreement was found among the magnetic flux transported by the flows, the accumulated flux causing dipolarization inside the SCW, and the flux enclosed within the poleward-expanded auroral oval. This agreement demonstrates that magnetic flux from the flows accumulated and generated the SCW, the magnetic dipolarization, and the auroral poleward expansion. The quantity of accumulated flux appears to determine the amplitudes of these phenomena.