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Cluster observations of energetic electron flux variations within the plasma sheet

Cluster observations of energetic electron flux variations within the plasma sheet

Publication date: 18 November 2009

Authors: Burin des Roziers, E. et al.

Journal: J. Geophys. Res.
Volume: 114
Issue: 11
ID: A11208
Year: 2009

Copyright: American Geophysical Union

The variability of energetic electron fluxes (>40 keV) within the plasma sheet is explored using measurements from the Cluster spacecraft from 2001 through 2005. Only cases where the spacecraft remains inside the plasma sheet throughout the event are considered. Interesting cases were found using a combination of automated methods and visual inspection. Events are classified into 4 main types: (1) plasma sheet empty of energetic electrons; (2) decreasing plasma sheet energetic electron fluxes; (3) increasing plasma sheet energetic electron fluxes; and (4) sharp (rising and falling) variations in plasma sheet energetic electron fluxes during a single plasma sheet crossing. Case studies are presented for each type of event. The time it takes to fill/empty the plasma sheet of energetic electrons is quantified based on these events. Extreme events, most of which are associated with enhanced geomagnetic activity, showed that energetic electrons in the plasma sheet can vary up to several orders of magnitude. Interestingly, the energetic electron fluxes inside the plasma sheet can still undergo rapid variations when the solar wind is calm and geomagnetic activity is low.

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