Journal Article Substorm simulation: Insight into the mechanisms of initial brightening

Ebihara, Y.  ,  Tanaka, T.

120 ( 9 )  , pp.7270 - 7288 , 2015-09 , American Geophysical Union
Initial brightening of the aurora is an optical manifestation of the beginning of a substorm expansion and is accompanied by large-amplitude upward field-aligned currents (FACs). Based on global magnetohydrodynamic simulation, we suggest the possible generation mechanism of the upward FAC that may manifest the initial brightening. (1) A formation of the near-Earth neutral line (NENL) releases the tension force that accelerates plasma earthward. (2) The earthward (perpendicular) flow is converted to a field-aligned flow when flow braking takes place. (3) A high-pressure region propagates earthward along a field line. (4) The off-equatorial high-pressure region pulls in and discharges ambient plasma, which generates a flow vorticity around it. (5) Region 1-sense FAC is generated in the upper part of the off-equatorial high-pressure region. (6) The upward FAC is connected with the ionosphere in the center of the Harang discontinuity, causing the initial brightening. Additional dynamo is generated in the near-Earth region, which transmits electromagnetic energy. Upward FAC that manifests the initial brightening seems to be necessarily originated in the near-Earth off-equatorial region where the magnitude of the perpendicular (diamagnetic) current is relatively small in comparison with that of the FAC. Near the equatorial plane, the perpendicular current is comparable to or larger than FAC so that a current line is diverted from a magnetic field line and that the FAC generated near the equatorial plane is not necessarily connected with the ionosphere. The proposed mechanism occurs regardless of the location of the NENL and may explain some of auroral forms.

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