Articles | Volume 17, issue 9
30 Sep 1999
30 Sep 1999

Properties and origin of energetic particles at the duskside of the Earth's magnetosheath throughout a great storm

D. V. Sarafopoulos, M. A. Athanasiu, E. T. Sarris, T. Yamamoto, and S. Kokubun

Abstract. We study an interval of 56 h on January 16 to 18, 1995, during which the GEOTAIL spacecraft traversed the duskside magnetosheath from 
X @ -15 to -40 RE and the EPIC/ICS and EPIC/STICS sensors sporadically detected tens of energetic particle bursts. This interval coincides with the expansion and growth of a great geomagnetic storm. The flux bursts are strongly dependent on the magnetic field orientation. They switch on whenever the Bz component approaches zero (Bz @ 0 nT). We strongly suggest a magnetospheric origin for the energetic ions and electrons streaming along these "exodus channels". The time profiles for energetic protons and "tracer" O+ ions are nearly identical, which suggests a common source. We suggest that the particles leak out of the magnetosphere all the time and that when the magnetosheath magnetic field connects the spacecraft to the magnetotail, they stream away to be observed by the GEOTAIL sensors. The energetic electron fluxes are not observed as commonly as the ions, indicating that their source is more limited in extent. In one case study the magnetosheath magnetic field lines are draped around the magnetopause within the YZ plane and a dispersed structure for peak fluxes of different species is detected and interpreted as evidence for energetic electrons leaking out from the dawn LLBL and then being channelled along the draped magnetic field lines over the magnetopause. Protons leak from the equatorial dusk LLBL and this spatial differentiation between electron and proton sources results in the observed dispersion. A gradient of energetic proton intensities toward the ZGSM = 0 plane is inferred. There is a permanent layer of energetic particles adjacent to the magnetosheath during this interval in which the dominant component of the magnetic field was Bz.

Key words. Magnetospheric physics (magnetosheath; magnetotail boundary layers; storms and substorms)