Distribution of Field-Aligned Electron Events in the High-Altitude Polar Region: Cluster Observations
Jiankui Shi Ziying Zhang Klaus Torkar Zhengwei Cheng Andrew Farzakeley Malcolm Dunlop Chris Carr
Volume122, Issue11 2017 Pages 11,245-11,255
Field‐aligned electrons (FAEs) are important for the energy transport in the solar wind‐magnetosphere‐ionosphere coupling. However, the distribution of FAEs and the concerning physical mechanism in different altitudes of the polar region are still unclear. In this paper, data from the Cluster spacecraft were used to study the characteristics of FAEs in high‐altitude polar region. We selected FAE events with a flux higher than 3 × 108(cm2 s)−1 for our analysis. Their distribution was double peaked around the auroral oval. The main peak occurred around the cusp region (magnetic local time (MLT) 0700–1500) which leaned to the dawnside. The other peak appeared in the evening sector with MLT 2100–2300 just before midnight. The durations of the FAE events covered a wide range from 4 to 475 s, with most of the FAE events lasting less than 40 s. The possible physical mechanisms are discussed, namely, that the downward FAEs may consist of decelerated solar wind and reflected up flowing ionospheric electrons in the potential drops, whereas the upward ones may be mirrored solar wind electrons and accelerated ionospheric up flowing electrons.