Using numerical magnetohydrodynamic simulations, we investigate the evolution of ionospheric convection and field-aligned currents (FACs) when θ auroras are formed in response to interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) By transitions. When the polarity of IMF By switches abruptly during northward IMF periods, the crossbar of the θ aurora is isolated from the flankside auroral oval and drifts into the polar cap. This drift motion is involved in a large round cell associated with new IMF By, with sunward convection residing only on the dayside tip of the crossbar. There exists an IMF By-controlled large-scale FAC system on the crossbar. When the θ aurora is drifting duskward (dawnward), the FACs are located on the dawnside (duskside) boundary of the crossbar adjacent to the “new” lobe. In contrast, the magnetospheric source region of the crossbar FAC system is located on the duskside (dawnside) boundary of the protruded plasma sheet adjacent to the “old” lobe. In the source region, plasma thermal pressure feeds the electromagnetic energy of FACs, and these processes can be interpreted as coupling of slow mode and Alfvén mode disturbances. In the ionosphere, the crossbar-associated FACs close with part of the region 1 currents associated with the new crescent cell. The magnetospheric source of that part of the region 1 FACs is located on the plasma sheet boundary and the magnetopause both adjacent to the new lobe. Dynamo processes in the old-lobe side and the new-lobe side work together to drive the ionospheric drift motion of the crossbar.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Space and Planetary Science