Can magnetotail reconnection produce the auroral intensities observed in the conjugate ionosphere?
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 In a recent case study, Borg et al. (2007) reported that an inverted V structure, caused by a field-aligned potential drop of 30 kV producing very strong X-ray aurora, was found in connection with tail reconnection. However, the in situ particle measurements indicated clearly that the particles responsible for the X-ray aurora were not accelerated by the reconnection process. In this article, we report the predicted auroral intensities of thirteen reconnection events where Cluster passed through the reconnection region. For six of the events, global auroral imaging data were available and the predicted auroral intensities could be compared with the observed intensities. Our main findings are as follows: (1) Acceleration in the reconnection region is generally not sufficient to account for the observed auroral intensities. (2) Additional acceleration between the reconnection region and the ionosphere is needed to explain the auroral intensities. Although we see signatures that point toward potential drops at the flanks of bursty bulk flows (BBFs), we also find signatures of Alfvén wave accelerated electrons at 700 km and we are not able to determine the most likely acceleration mechanism. (3) The reconnection events are observed 2–14 min after substorm onset and indicate that reconnection is an expanding process observed along the poleward boundary of the aurora.
CitationØstgaard N, Snekvik K, Borg, Åsnes A, Pedersen A, Øieroset M, Phan TD, Haaland SE. Can magnetotail reconnection produce the auroral intensities observed in the conjugate ionosphere? Journal of Geophysical Research - Space Physics. 2009;114:A06204
PublisherAmerican Geophysical Union
Copyright 2009 by the American Geophysical Union