Rotational temperature of N2+ (0,2) ions from spectrographic measurements used to infer the energy of precipitation in different auroral forms and compared with radar measurements
Abstract. High resolution spectral data are used to estimate neutral temperatures at auroral heights. The data are from the High Throughput Imaging Echelle Spectrograph (HiTIES) which forms part of the Spectrographic Imaging Facility (SIF), located at Longyearbyen, Svalbard in Norway. The platform also contains photometers and a narrow angle auroral imager. Quantum molecular spectroscopy is used for modelling N2+ 1NG (0,2), which serves as a diagnostic tool for neutral temperature and emission height variations. The theoretical spectra are convolved with the instrument function and fitted to measured rotational transition lines as a function of temperature. Measurements were made in the magnetic zenith, and along a meridian slit centred on the magnetic zenith. In the results described, the high spectral resolution of the data (0.08 nm) allows an error analysis to be performed more thoroughly than previous findings, with particular attention paid to the correct subtraction of background, and to precise wavelength calibration. Supporting measurements were made with the Svalbard Eiscat Radar (ESR). Estimates were made from both optical and radar observations of the average energy of precipitating electrons in different types of aurora. These provide confirmation that the spectral results are in agreement with the variations observed in radar profiles. In rayed aurora the neutral temperature was highest (800 K) and the energy lowest (1 keV). In a bright curling arc, the temperature at the lower border was about 550 K, corresponding to energies of 2 keV. The radar and modelling results confirm that these average values are a lower limit for an estimation of the characteristic energy. In each event the energy distribution is clearly made up of more than one spectral shape. This work emphasises the need for high time resolution as well as high spectral resolution. The present work is the first to provide rotational temperatures using a method which pays particular attention to errors in measurement and fitting, and background subtraction.