An observational study of the relationship between precipitating ions and ENAs emerging from the ion/atmosphere interaction region




Mackler, David A.

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Plasmasheet particles transported Earthward during times of active magnetospheric convection can interact with thermospheric neutrals through charge exchange. The resulting Energetic Neutral Atoms (ENAs) are free to leave the influence of the magnetosphere and can be remotely detected. ENAs associated with low altitude (300-800 km) ion precipitation in the high latitude atmosphere/ionosphere are termed Low Altitude Emissions (LAEs). Remotely observed LAEs are highly non-isotropic in velocity space such that the pitch angle distribution at the time of charge exchange is near 90 degrees. The Geomagnetic Emission Cone (GEC) of LAEs can be mapped spatially, showing where proton energy is deposited during times of varying geomagnetic activity. In this study we present a statistical look at the correlation between LAE flux (intensity and location) and geomagnetic activity as well as comparisons of LAE signatures with in situ ion precipitation. The LAE data is from the MENA imager on the IMAGE satellite over the declining phase of solar cycle 23 (2000-2005). The SYM-H, AE, and Kp indices are used to describe geomagnetic activity. The in situ data is from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP). The goal of the study is to evaluate properties of LAEs in ENA images and determine if those images can be used to infer properties of ion precipitation. Results indicate a general positive correlation to LAE flux for all three indices, with the SYM-H showing the greatest non-linearity. The MLT distribution of LAEs are centered about midnight and spread with increasing activity. The Invariant Latitude for all indices has a slightly negative correlation. The combined results indicate that both LAE and DMSP data behave similarly to geomagnetic activity. LAEs are more spread out in latitude, possibly due to multiple charge exchange interactions, while the in situ data changes to lower latitudes dramatically with increasing flux. The bulk of the data indicates that the LAE latitude region is lower than that of the precipitating ions. The local time coverage of the DMSP constellation during the time of MENA is too limited to infer much information. The ratio of the fluxes (DMSP/LAE) is roughly constant over storm time parameters (LOG[-SYM-H]/Slope/Phase), with the possible exception of favoring Low Altitude Emissions at higher flux and lower latitudes. This may indicate that the change in flux intensity may respond equally between the two.


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Energetic Neutral Atoms, Low Altitude Emissions, Magnetospheric Physics, Space Weather



Physics and Astronomy