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Cluster investigations of the extent and altitude distribution of the auroral density cavity
KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6997-7037
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The auroral density cavity constitutes the boundary between the cold, dense ionospheric plasma and the hot, tenuous plasma sheet plasma. The auroral density cavity is characterized by low electron density and particle populations modified by parallel electric fields. Inside the cavity the electron densities can be as much as a factor 100-1000 lower than same altitude outside the cavity.The Cluster mission's wide range of instruments, long lifetime and ability to make multi-spacecraft observations has been very successful. Over its 15 year lifespan, the Cluster satellites have gathered data on auroral density cavities over a large altitude range and throughout an entire solar cycle, providing a vast data material.The extent of the density cavity and acceleration region is large compared to the typical altitude coverage of a satellite crossing the cavity. This makes it difficult to produce a comprehensive altitude/density profile from a single crossing. In order to facilitate comparisons between data from different events, we introduce a new reference frame, pseudo altitude. Pseudo altitude describes the satellites' position relative to the acceleration region, as opposed to relative to the Earth. This pseudo altitude is constructed by dividing the parallel potential drop below the satellite with the total parallel potential drop. A pseudo altitude of 0 corresponds to the bottom of the acceleration region and a pseudo altitude of 1 to the top of the acceleration region. As expected, the pseudo altitude increases with altitude. The electron density exhibits an anti-correlation with the pseudo altitude, the density becomes lower close to the upper edge of the acceleration region. The upper edge of the acceleration region is located between a geocentric altitude of 4.375 and 5.625 RE. Above the upper edge of the acceleration region, the electron density continues to decrease for the entire range of the study, 3.0-6.5 RE. This is much further than the geocentric altitude range of 2-3 RE which is suggested by previous models. We can conclude that the auroral density cavity is not confined by the auroral acceleration region, as suggested by previous models, and may extend all the way to the plasma sheet.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2015. , xi, 58 p.
Series
TRITA-EE, ISSN 1653-5146 ; 2015:100
Keyword [en]
Auroral density cavity, auroral accelaration, Cluster, in situ observation, electron density, pseudo altitude
National Category
Fusion, Plasma and Space Physics
Research subject
Physics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-176285ISBN: 978-91-7595-729-6 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-176285DiVA: diva2:866370
Public defence
2015-11-20, Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, KTH, Stockholm, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20151102

Available from: 2015-11-02 Created: 2015-11-02 Last updated: 2015-11-02Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Pseudo altitude: A new perspective on the auroral density cavity
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Pseudo altitude: A new perspective on the auroral density cavity
2013 (English)In: Journal of Geophysical Research A: Space Physics, ISSN 2169-9380, Vol. 118, no 7, 4341-4351 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Studying the density distribution inside the auroral density cavity is complicated by the difficulties in achieving simultaneous measurements within the same flux tube at different altitudes. Comparisons between different events are complicated by variations in both the location of the density cavity and the location of the related potential structure. Describing the spacecraft's location inside the density cavity relative to the potential structure instead of the Earth offers a more practical and consistent frame of reference, a pseudo altitude. The pseudo altitude is determined by comparing the potential drop above the spacecraft, as determined from the characteristic energy of the downward electrons, with the parallel potential drop below the spacecraft, determined from the characteristic energy of the upward ions. A pseudo altitude of 0 corresponds to the bottom of the potential structure and a pseudo altitude of 1 to the top of the structure. Seven events from 2008 were selected, each of which corresponds to a Cluster crossing of a mainly quasi-static potential structure. All of the events exhibit a consistent anticorrelation between the pseudo altitude and the electron density. No upper limit of the density cavity can be observed, while all cavities have a lower limit above a pseudo altitude of 0.33. These observations show that the auroral density cavity is predominately concentrated to the upper parts of the quasi-static potential structure.

Keyword
auroral density cavity, pseudo altitude, electron density, cluster satellites
National Category
Physical Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-133552 (URN)10.1002/jgra.50408 (DOI)000325073600036 ()2-s2.0-84882778991 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20131107

Available from: 2013-11-07 Created: 2013-11-06 Last updated: 2015-11-02Bibliographically approved
2. In situ observations of density cavities extending above the auroral acceleration region
Open this publication in new window or tab >>In situ observations of density cavities extending above the auroral acceleration region
2014 (English)In: Journal of Geophysical Research - Space Physics, ISSN 2169-9380, E-ISSN 2169-9402, Vol. 119, no 7, 5286-5294 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The uppermost part of a stable potential structure in the auroral acceleration region was studied using simultaneous observations of Cluster satellites C1 and C3. Both satellites observe a monotonically decreasing electron density as they ascend through the auroral acceleration region. As C1 exits the top of the auroral acceleration region, the electron densities continue to decrease, and the minimum electron density is reached 14 km above the upper edge of the auroral acceleration region. The electron density does not return to noncavity values until the spacecraft exits the potential structure's flux tube. The data indicate that the auroral density cavity is not confined by the potential structure and may extend above the auroral acceleration region.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
American Geophysical Union (AGU), 2014
Keyword
auroral acceleration region, auroral density cavity, potential structure
National Category
Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-150940 (URN)10.1002/2014JA019799 (DOI)000340549000014 ()2-s2.0-84906309021 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20140912

QC 20151209

Available from: 2014-09-12 Created: 2014-09-11 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
3. Statistical altitude distribution of the auroral density cavity
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Statistical altitude distribution of the auroral density cavity
2015 (English)In: Journal of Geophysical Research - Space Physics, ISSN 2169-9380, E-ISSN 2169-9402, Vol. 120, no 2, 996-1006 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The statistical altitude distribution of auroral density cavities located between 3.0 and 6.5 R-E is investigated using in situ observations from flux tubes exhibiting auroral acceleration. The locations of the observations are described using a pseudo altitude derived from the distribution of the parallel potential drop above and below the satellite. The upper edge of the auroral acceleration region is observed between 4.375 and 5.625 R-E. Above 6.125 R-E, none of the events exhibit precipitating inverted V electrons, though the upward ion beam can be observed. This indicates that the satellites are located inside the same flux tube as, but above, the auroral acceleration region. The electron density decreases as we move higher into the acceleration region. The spacecraft potential continues to decrease once above the acceleration region, indicating that the density cavity extends above the acceleration region. From 3.0 to 4.375 R-E the pseudo altitude increases by 0.20 per R-E, consistent with a distributed parallel electric field. Between 4.375 and 5.625 R-E the pseudo altitude increases weakly, by 0.01 per R-E, due to an increasing number of events per altitude bin, which are occurring above the acceleration region. Above 5.625 R-E the pseudo altitude increases by 0.28 per R-E, due to a rapid increase in the number of events per altitude bin occurring above the acceleration region, indicating that the remaining parallel potential drop is concentrated in a narrow region at the upper edge of the acceleration region, rather than in a distributed parallel electric field.

National Category
Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-155704 (URN)10.1002/2014JA020691 (DOI)000351360800011 ()2-s2.0-84924811630 (Scopus ID)
Note

Updated from "Manuscript" to "Article". QC 20150420

Available from: 2014-11-10 Created: 2014-11-10 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
4. Electron density and parallel electric field distribution of the auroral density cavity
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Electron density and parallel electric field distribution of the auroral density cavity
2015 (English)In: Journal of Geophysical Research, ISSN 0148-0227, E-ISSN 2156-2202, Vol. 120, no 11, 9428-9441 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We present an event study in which Cluster satellites C1 and C3 encounters the flux tube of a stable auroral arc in the pre-midnight sector. C1 observes the mid cavity, while C3 enters the flux tube of the auroral arc at an altitude which is below the acceleration region, before crossing into the top half of the acceleration region. This allows us to study the boundary between the ionosphere and the density cavity, as well as large portion of the upper density cavity. The position of the two satellites, in relation to the acceleration region, is described using a pseudo altitude derived from the distribution of the parallel potential drop above and below the satellites.The electron density exhibits an anti-correlation with the pseudo altitude, indicating that the lowest electron densities are found near the top of the density cavity. Over the entire pseudo altitude range, the electron density distribution is similar to a planar sheath, formed out of a plasma sheet dominated electron distribution, in response to the parallel electric field of the acceleration region. This indicates that the parallel electric fields on the ionosphere-cavity boundary, as well as the mid cavity parallel electric fields, are part of one unified structure rather than two discrete entities.The results highlight the strong connection between the auroral density cavity and auroral acceleration as well as the necessity of studying them in a unified fashion.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
American Geophysical Union (AGU), 2015
Keyword
Auroral density cavity
National Category
Fusion, Plasma and Space Physics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-176281 (URN)10.1002/2015JA021593 (DOI)000368252100014 ()2-s2.0-84954399402 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20160216

Available from: 2015-11-02 Created: 2015-11-02 Last updated: 2017-12-01Bibliographically approved

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