Articles | Volume 29, issue 6
27 Jun 2011
 | 27 Jun 2011

Excitation of zero-frequency magnetic field-aligned currents by ionospheric heating

A. V. Streltsov and T. R. Pedersen

Abstract. Time-dependent, three-dimensional numerical simulations of the reduced MHD model describing shear Alfvén waves in the magnetosphere provide an interesting prediction superficially similar to results of several ionospheric heating experiments conducted at high altitudes. In these experiments, heating of the ionospheric F-region with a constant/zero-frequency beam of HF waves causes luminous structures in the ionosphere in the form of a ring or a solid spot with a characteristic size comparable to the size of the heated spot. Simulations suggest that spots/rings or similar optical appearance might be associated with a magnetic field-aligned current system produced by the ionospheric heating. Two of the most interesting features of this current system are (1) strong localization across the ambient magnetic field and (2) distinctive non-symmetrical luminous signatures (ring/spot) in magnetically conjugate locations in the ionosphere.