Comprehensive study of the magnetospheric response to a hot flow anomaly

D. G. Sibeck, N. L. Borodkova, S. J. Schwartz, C. J. Owen, R. Kessel, S. Kokubun, R. P. Lepping, R. Lin, H. Luhr, R. W. McEntire, C. I. Meng, T. Mukai, Z. Nemecek, G. Parks, T. D. Phan, S. A. Romanov, J. Safrankova, J. A. Sauvaud, H. J. Singer, S. I. Solovyev, A. Szabo, K. Takahaski, D. J. Williams, K. Yumoto, G. N. Zastenker

Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD


We present a comprehensive observational study of the magnetospheric response to an interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) tangential discontinuity, which first struck the postnoon bow shock and magnetopause and then swept past the prenoon bow shock and magnetopause on July 24, 1996. Although unaccompanied by any significant plasma variation, the discontinuity interacted with the bow shock to form a hot flow anomaly (HFA), which was observed by Interball-1 just upstream from the prenoon bow shock. Pressures within and Earthward of the HFA were depressed by an order of magnitude, which allowed the magnetopause to briefly (similar to 7 min) move outward some 5 R-E beyond its nominal position and engulf Interball-1. A timing study employing nearby Interball-1 and Magion-4 observations demonstrates that this motion corresponded to an antisunward and northward moving wave on the magnetopause. The same wave then engulfed Geotail, which was nominally located downstream in the outer dawn magnetosheath. Despite its large amplitude, the wave produced only minor effects in GOES-8 geosynchronous observations near local dawn.

Polar Ultraviolet Imager (UVI) observed a sudden brightening of the afternoon aurora, followed by an even more intense transient brightening of the morning aurora. Consistent with this asymmetry, the discontinuity produced only weak near-simultaneous perturbations in high-latitude postnoon ground magnetometers but a transient convection vortex in the prenoon Greenland ground magnetograms. The results of this study indicate that the solar wind interaction with the bow shock is far more dynamic than previously imagined and far more significant to the solar wind-magnetosphere interaction.

J. Geophys. Res., 104, A3, 4577-4593, 1999