Multiple magnetic dipolarizations observed by THEMIS during a substorm
Abstract. The magnetic field dipolarization in the vicinity of substorm onset and during substorm expansion phase during the period of 06:00–06:40 UT on 15 February 2008 is investigated with observations from multiple probes of THEMIS. It is found that the magnetic dipolarization at the substorm onset (the onset time was about 06:14 UT) was not accompanied by obvious magnetic disturbance and ion bulk speed variation. The magnetic dipolarizations taking place during the substorm expansion phase observed by P4~(−10.97, 2.04, −3.03) RE and P3~(−11.32, 1.15, −3.10) RE were mostly accompanied by high speed earthward ion bulk flow, but the magnetic dipolarizations occurring during the substorm expansion phase observed by P5~(−9.45, 1.07, −2.85) RE were not accompanied by high speed earthward ion bulk flow. Before substorm onset THEMIS P3, P4, P5 all observed the Bx component fluctuation with a period of about 300 s. After substorm onset earthward high speed ion bulk flow and significant magnetic disturbances both occurred at P3 and P4 locations. These results indicate that there is no one-to-one relationship between the near-Earth magnetic dipolarization and the earthward ion bulk flow. In particular, the magnetic dipolarization occurring on the earthward side of the inner near-Earth plasma sheet is not accompanied by high speed earthward ion bulk flow. The dipolarization at substorm onset is a local and small scale phenomenon. There are multiple magnetic dipolarizations occurring during the substorm expansion phase. The dipolarization process is very complex and is not simply an MHD process. It is accompanied by some kinds of plasma instabilities, the plasma sheet azimuthal expansion not only by earthward ion bulk flow during substorm. A sharp increase of the AE index does not always give an accurate substorm onset time for substorm analysis.