The role of vibrationally excited oxygen and nitrogen in the D and E regions of the ionosphere
Abstract. In this paper we present the results of a study of the effect of vibrationally excited oxygen, O*2, and nitrogen, N*2, on the electron density, Ne, and the electron temperature, Te, in the D and E regions. The sources of O*2 are O-atom recombination, the photodissociation of O3, and the reaction of O3 with O at D region altitudes. The first calculations of O*2( j) number densities, Nj, are obtained by solving continuity equations for the models of harmonic and anharmonic oscillator energy levels, j=1-22. It is found that day time values of Nj are less than nighttime values. We also show that the photoionization of O*2 ( j ≥ 11) by Lα-radiation has no influence on the D region Ne. In the nighttime D region the photoionization O*2 ( j ≥ 11) by scattered Lα-radiation can be a new source of O+2. We show that the N*2 and O*2 de-excitation effect on the electron temperature is small in the E region of the ionosphere and cannot explain experimentally observed higher electron temperatures.