• A theory of field-aligned current generation from the plasma sheet and the poleward expansion of aurora substorms

      Yamauchi, Masatoshi; Akasofu, Syun-Ichi (1990)
      This dissertation reports a study of the generation of field-aligned currents in the plasma sheet in terms of magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling. For the study, the plasma sheet and the ionosphere are treated as two-dimensional layers by height integration. In the magnetosphere between them, the Alfven wave transition time through this region is assumed to be zero. The ionospheric momentum is allowed to be transferred to the plasma sheet. Both linear analyses and numerical simulation are performed to study the field-aligned current generation. In the linear analysis, evolution from initial perturbations is studied. Zero order configurations are steady state without field-aligned currents. The field-aligned currents are treated as a perturbed quantity and linearly related with the other perturbed quantities. One result for the linear waves is that the magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) fast mode and Alfven mode are coupled through the ionospheric Hall current. The Hall current causes the dawn-dusk asymmetry: a westward-travelling wave is amplified on the region 1 current system, while an eastward-travelling wave is amplified elsewhere. The expansion phase of the magnetospheric substorm after the onset is numerically simulated on the near-earth plasma sheet. The inner edge of the plasma sheet is taken as the outflow boundary. As the initial condition, an enhanced earthward magnetospheric convection is assumed to cause a finite pressure increase at the inner edge of the plasma sheet. The numerical results are as follows. An MHD fast-mode wave is generated. It propagates tailward accompanied by the field-aligned currents. The wave propagation and the field-aligned currents account for the poleward expansion of the aurora and the region 1 field-aligned current during the expansion phase of the substorm. The region 1 field-aligned currents are linked with the dusk to dawn current on this wave, which is driven by the dynamo mechanism of the wave. The ionospheric Hall current causes asymmetry of the wave, and hence, of the field-aligned current distribution. This asymmetry accounts for the stronger field-aligned current in the premidnight sector.