Articles | Volume 22, issue 10
03 Nov 2004
 | 03 Nov 2004

Current-voltage relationship in the auroral particle acceleration region

M. Morooka, T. Mukai, and H. Fukunishi

Abstract. The current-voltage relationship in the auroral particle acceleration region has been studied statistically by the Akebono (EXOS-D) satellite in terms of the charge carriers of the upward field-aligned current. The Akebono satellite often observed field-aligned currents which were significantly larger than the model value predicted by Knight (1973). We compared the upward field-aligned current estimated by three different methods, and found that low-energy electrons often play an important role as additional current carriers, together with the high-energy primary electrons which are expected from Knight's relation. Such additional currents have been observed especially at high and middle altitudes of the particle acceleration region. Some particular features of electron distribution functions, such as "cylindrical distribution functions" and "electron conics", have often been observed coinciding with the additional currents. They indicated time variability of the particle acceleration region. Therefore, we have concluded that the low-energy electrons within the "forbidden" region of electron phase space in the stationary model often contribute to charge carriers of the current because of the rapid time variability of the particle acceleration region. "Cylindrical distribution functions" are expected to be found below the time-varying potential difference. We statistically examined the locations of "cylindrical distribution function", and found that their altitudes are related to the location where the additional currents have been observed. This result is consistent with the idea that the low-energy electrons can also carry significant current when the acceleration region changes in time.