FAST satellite observations of large-amplitude solitary structures

R. E. Ergun, C. W. Carlson, J. P. McFadden, F. S. Mozer, G. T. Delory, W. Peria, C. C. Chaston, M. Temerin, I. Roth, L. Muschietti, R. Elphic, R. Strangeway, R. Pfaff, C. A. Cattell, D. Klumpar, E. Shelley, W. Peterson, E. Moebius, L. Kistler

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We report observations of "fast solitary waves" that are ubiquitous in downward current regions of the mid-altitude auroral zone. The single-period structures have large amplitudes (up to 2.5 V/m), travel much faster than the ion acoustic speed, carry substantial potentials (up to ∼100 Volts), and are associated with strong modulations of energetic electron fluxes. The amplitude and speed of the structures distinguishes them from ion-acoustic solitary waves or weak double layers. The electromagnetic signature appears to be that of an positive charge (electron hole) traveling anti-earthward. We present evidence that the structures are in or near regions of magnetic-field-aligned electric fields and propose that these nonlinear structures play a key role in supporting parallel electric fields in the downward current region of the auroral zone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2041-2044
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1998

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    Ergun, R. E., Carlson, C. W., McFadden, J. P., Mozer, F. S., Delory, G. T., Peria, W., Chaston, C. C., Temerin, M., Roth, I., Muschietti, L., Elphic, R., Strangeway, R., Pfaff, R., Cattell, C. A., Klumpar, D., Shelley, E., Peterson, W., Moebius, E., & Kistler, L. (1998). FAST satellite observations of large-amplitude solitary structures. Geophysical Research Letters, 25(12), 2041-2044.