Multipoint study of a substorm on February 9, 1995

A. T. Y. Lui, D. J. Williams, R. W. McEntire, S. Ohtani, L. J. Zanetti, W. A. Bristow, R. A. Greenwald, P. T. Newell, S. P. Christon, T. Mukai, K. Tsuruda, T. Yamamoto, S. Kokubun, H. Matsumoto, H. Kojima, T. Murata, D. H. Fairfield, R. P. Lepping, J. C. Samson, G. Rostoker, G. D. Reeves, A. L. Rodger, and H. J. Singer

Applied Physics Laboratory, The Johns Hopkins University, Laurel, Maryland


An extended interval of strong northward interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) was observed by the Wind spacecraft located at an upstream distance of ~193 RE from February 8-10, 1995, with a brief break of southward IMF from 0200 to 0400 UT on February 9. This brief interval of southward IMF led to an isolated substorm of moderate intensity (~500 nT) with expansion phase starting at ~0431 UT. This substorm may be triggered by the northward turning of the IMF since its onset time matched well with the time expected for the arrival of the northward turning of the IMF at Earth. The substorm activities were monitored by 11 spacecraft in space (Wind, IMP 8, Geotail, six geosynchronous satellites, one DMSP satellite, and Freja) and two networks of ground stations (Canopus and SuperDARN) covering both the northern and southern hemispheres. The extensive coverage of this event provides us with results (1) showing some unusual characteristics possibly related to the isolated nature of the substorm and (2) revealing some surprising features difficult to reconcile with the traditional substorm model. In the first category is unusually long duration of the growth phase and the long time delay between substorm expansion onset and particle injection onset at the geosynchronous orbit. In the second category is new evidence for multiple particle acceleration sites during substorm expansion and for sunward flow during the late expansion phase of a substorm being unrelated to a single acceleration site (X line) moving from the near-Earth tail to the more distant tail. We also present observations which show the possible optical signature on the ground of bursty bulk flows in the magnetotail.

J. Geophys. Res., 103, 17,333-17,343, 1998