Articles | Volume 26, issue 2
26 Feb 2008
 | 26 Feb 2008

Comparison of simulated and observed large-scale, field-aligned current structures

P. Nenovski

Abstract. Recently, a model of large-scale, field-aligned current (FAC) structures, based on zero-frequency MHD surface wave (SW) modes that can emerge from the solar wind-Earth's magnetosphere interaction, has been proposed. The FAC polarity and intensity distribution are quantified as a function of the solar wind parameters and the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) magnitude that enter as input parameters. Besides, there are input parameters intrinsic to the Earth's magnetosphere – the size of the polar cap and the boundary regions and their plasma density variations. Influence of the IMF By component on the FAC structure is examined here. Depending on the IMF By magnitude, the predicted six-cell FAC structure tends to evolve in a spiral-like fashion. This large-scale FAC model is compared with experimental evidences and empirical FAC models based on DE-2 satellite data and high-precision Oersted and Magsat satellite magnetometer data. Among the various achievements of these long-term satellite measurements, an observation/discovery of a ground-based state of FACs which includes a pair of large-scale FACs in the polar cap under both positive and negative IMF Bz has been pointed out. The FAC pattern is qualitatively and quantitatively consistent with experimental data for both polar cap FAC and Region 1 and Region 2 FAC systems.