Articles | Volume 25, issue 3
29 Mar 2007
 | 29 Mar 2007

A quantitative test of Jones NTC beaming theory using CLUSTER constellation

S. Grimald, P. M. E. Décréau, P. Canu, X. Suraud, X. Vallières, F. Darrouzet, and C. C. Harvey

Abstract. Non-thermal continuum (NTC) radiation is, with auroral kilometric radiation (AKR), one of the two electromagnetic emissions generated within the Earth's magnetosphere and radiated into space. The location of the source of NTC has been sought for several decades, with only limited success. The constellation formed by the four CLUSTER spacecraft provides the possibility of triangulation in the vicinity of the source, thus allowing progress in source localisation, while simultaneously revealing the beaming properties of NTC radio sources.

We present a case event showing two beams localised on opposite sides of the magnetic equator. At any selected frequency, triangulation points to a single region source of small size. Its position is compatible with the range of possible loci of sources predicted by the radio window theory of Jones (1982) in a frame of constraints relaxed from the simple sketch proposed in early works. The analysis of similar observations from the Dynamics Explorer 1 by Jones et al. (1987) enabled the authors to claim validation of the radio window theory. CLUSTER observations, however, reveal a large beaming cone angle projected onto the ecliptic plane, a feature unobservable by Dynamics Explorer which had a different spin axis orientation. According to the radio window theory, such a large observed cone angle can only be formed by a series of point sources, each beaming in a narrow cone angle. This study demonstrates the difficulty of validating NTC linear generation mechanisms using global beaming properties alone.