Strong southward and northward currents observed in the inner plasma sheet

Yang, Yan-Yan; Shen, Chao; Ji, Yong

It is generally believed that field-aligned currents (FACs) and the ring current (RC) are two dominant parts of the inner magnetosphere. However, using the Cluster spacecraft crossing the pre-midnight inner plasma sheet in the latitudinal region between 10 and 30inline-formula N, it is found that, during intense geomagnetic storms, in addition to FACs and the RC, strong southward and northward currents also exist which should not be FACs because the magnetic field in these regions is mainly along the inline-formulaxinline-formulay plane. Detailed investigation shows that both magnetic-field lines (MFLs) and currents in these regions are highly dynamic. When the curvature of MFLs changes direction in the inline-formulaxinline-formulay plane, the current also alternatively switches between being southward and northward. To investigate the generation mechanism of the southward and northward current, we employed the analysis of energetic particle flux up to 1 inline-formulaMeV. For energetic particles below 40 inline-formulakeV, observations from Cluster CIS/CODIF (Cluster Ion Spectrometry COmposition and DIstribution Function analyzer) are used. However, for higher-energy particles, the flux is obtained by extrapolations of low-energy particle data through Kappa distribution. The result indicates that the most reasonable cause of these southward and northward currents is the curvature drift of energetic particles.



Yang, Yan-Yan / Shen, Chao / Ji, Yong: Strong southward and northward currents observed in the inner plasma sheet. 2019. Copernicus Publications.


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