Articles | Volume 35, issue 1
Regular paper
01 Feb 2017
Regular paper |  | 01 Feb 2017

The response of the H geocorona between 3 and 8 Re to geomagnetic disturbances studied using TWINS stereo Lyman-α data

Jochen H. Zoennchen, Uwe Nass, Hans J. Fahr, and Jerry Goldstein

Abstract. Circumterrestrial Lyman-α column brightness observations from 3–8 Earth radii (Re) have been used to study temporal density variations in the exospheric neutral hydrogen as response to geomagnetic disturbances of different strength, i.e., Dst peak values between −26 and −147 nT. The data used were measured by the two Lyman-α detectors (LAD1/2) onboard both TWINS satellites between the solar minimum of 2008 and near the solar maximum of 2013. The solar Lyman-α flux at 121.6 nm is resonantly scattered near line center by exospheric H atoms and measured by the TWINS LADs. Along a line of sight (LOS), the scattered LOS-column intensity is proportional to the LOS H column density, assuming optically thin conditions above 3 Re. In the case of the eight analyzed geomagnetic storms we found a significant increase in the exospheric Lyman-α flux between 9 and 23 % (equal to the same increase in H column density ΔnH) compared to the undisturbed case short before the storm event. Even weak geomagnetic storms (e.g., Dst peak values  ≥  −41 nT) under solar minimum conditions show increases up to 23 % of the exospheric H densities. The strong H density increase in the observed outer exosphere is also a sign of an enhanced H escape flux during storms. For the majority of the storms we found an average time shift of about 11 h between the time when the first significant dynamic solar wind pressure peak (pSW) hits the Earth and the time when the exospheric Lyman-α flux variation reaches its maximum. The results show that the (relative) exospheric density reaction of ΔnH have a tendency to decrease with increasing peak values of Dst index or the Kp index daily sum. Nevertheless, a simple linear correlation between ΔnH and these two geomagnetic indices does not seem to exist. In contrast, when recovering from the peak back to the undisturbed case, the Kp index daily sum and the ΔnH essentially show the same temporal recovery.