Magnetic field‐aligned potential drops due to electrostatic ion cyclotron turbulence

M. K. Hudson, R. L. Lysak, F. S. Mozer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Measurements of DC and AC electric fields and plasma densities on the S3‐3 satellite have shown that electrostatic ion cyclotron (EIC) turbulence is associated with significant DC electric fields parallel to auroral field lines. The EIC mode has been identified in regions of strong DC electric fields and magnetic field aligned currents by AC electric field and density fluctuations with frequency components between the local hydrogen gyrofrequency and its harmonics, and by wave vector polarization primarily perpendicular to the magnetic field at wavelengths of an ion gyroradius. The anomalous resistivity has been computed for measured AC electric fields of 50 mV/m in the EIC mode, yielding ∼1 mV/m DC parallel electric fields for measured currents of ∼10 µA/m². This theoretical result implies that several kV potential drops will occur if the anomalous resistivity region extends over several thousand kilometers along auroral field lines. This is adequate to accelerate auroral particles to observed energies and consistent with the scale height over which parallel electric fields and EIC turbulence are statistically observed on S3‐3.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-146
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1978


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