Articles | Volume 24, issue 2
23 Mar 2006
 | 23 Mar 2006

Observations of concentrated generator regions in the nightside magnetosphere by Cluster/FAST conjunctions

M. Hamrin, O. Marghitu, K. Rönnmark, B. Klecker, M. André, S. Buchert, L. M. Kistler, J. McFadden, H. Rème, and A. Vaivads

Abstract. Here and in the companion paper, Marghitu et al. (2006), we investigate plausible auroral generator regions in the nightside auroral magnetosphere. In this article we use magnetically conjugate data from the Cluster and the FAST satellites during a 3.5-h long event from 19-20 September 2001. Cluster is in the Southern Hemisphere close to apogee, where it probes the plasma sheet and lobe at an altitude of about 18 RE. FAST is below the acceleration region at approximately 0.6 RE. Searching for clear signatures of negative power densities, E·J<0, in the Cluster data we can identify three concentrated generator regions (CGRs) during our event. From the magnetically conjugate FAST data we see that the observed generator regions in the Cluster data correlate with auroral precipitation. The downward Poynting flux observed by Cluster, as well as the scale size of the CGRs, are consistent with the electron energy flux and the size of the inverted-V regions observed by FAST. To our knowledge, these are the first in-situ observations of the crossing of an auroral generator region. The main contribution to E·J<0 comes from the GSE EyJy. The electric field Ey is weakly negative during most of our entire event and we conclude that the CGRs occur when the duskward current Jy grows large and positive. We find that our observations are consistent with a local southward expansion of the plasma sheet and/or rather complicated, 3-D wavy structures propagating over the Cluster satellites. We find that the plasma is working against the magnetic field, and that kinetic energy is being converted into electromagnetic energy. Some of the energy is transported away as Poynting flux.