Cluster observations of an auroral potential and associated field-aligned current reconfiguration during thinning of the plasma sheet boundary layer
Publication date: 13 Jan 2007
Authors: Marklund, G. et al.
Journal: Journal of Geophysical Research
Copyright: American Geophysical UnionCluster observations are used to illustrate the reconfiguration of an auroral potential structure encountered at the poleward boundary of the central plasma sheet within the Southern Hemisphere premidnight auroral oval. The reconfiguration from a symmetric U shape to an asymmetric S shape takes place between two consecutive crossings by Cluster spacecraft 1 and 2, moving along roughly the same orbits and separated in time by 16 minutes. During this time the plasma conditions poleward of the boundary changed dramatically. The fluxes of energetic electrons decreased, as did the intensities of the associated small-scale field-aligned currents (FACs) and the ambient plasma density. These changes were particularly pronounced in a narrow region adjacent to the boundary. The reconfiguration of the potential structure, and of the associated FAC system consistent with this, are consistent with the predictions by Marklund et al. (2004).