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Journal Article

Evolution of Asymmetrically Displaced Footpoints During Substorms


Haaland,  Stein
Department Planets and Comets, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Max Planck Society;

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Ohma, A., Østgaard, N., Reistad, J. P., Tenfjord, P., Laundal, K. M., Snekvik, K., et al. (2018). Evolution of Asymmetrically Displaced Footpoints During Substorms. Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, 123(12), 10,030-10,063. doi:10.1029/2018JA025869.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-9F2D-9
It is well established that a transverse (y) component in the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) induces a By component in the closed magnetosphere through asymmetric loading and/or redistribution of magnetic flux. Simultaneous images of the aurora in the two hemispheres have revealed that conjugate auroral features are displaced longitudinally during such conditions. Although the direction and magnitude of this displacement show correlations with IMF clock angle and dipole tilt, single events show large temporal and spatial variability of this displacement. For instance, we know little about how the displacement changes during a substorm. A previous case study demonstrated that displaced auroral forms, associated with the prevailing IMF orientation, returned to a more symmetric configuration during the expansion phase of two substorms. Using the far ultraviolet cameras on board the Imager for Magnetopause‐to‐Aurora Global Exploration and Polar satellites, we have identified multiple events where conjugate auroral images are available during periods with substorm activity and IMF By≠0. We identify conjugate auroral features and investigate how the asymmetry evolves during the expansion phase. We find that the system returns to a more symmetric state in the events with a clear increase in the nightside reconnection rate and that the displacement remains unchanged in the events with little or no net closure of open magnetic flux. The return to a more symmetric state can therefore be interpreted as the result of increased reconnection rate in the magnetotail during the expansion phase, which reduces the asymmetric lobe pressure.