Observations of discrete, global magnetospheric oscillations directly driven by solar wind density variations

Academic Article


  • In this paper we present six events in which both the time series and the spectral content of solar wind number density fluctuations and magnetospheric magnetic field observations were highly correlated for intervals ranging from a few to twelve hours. The fluctuations were periodic and occurred at discrete frequencies which often matched the f = 1.3, 1.9, 2.6, and 3.4 mHz oscillations that have been attributed to global magnetospheric MHD cavity and/or waveguide modes. We also observed significant power in the sub‐mHz region, with frequencies as low as f = 0.1 mHz. We show that these fluctuations were first observed in the solar wind, far upstream from the Earth, and argue that the convected density perturbations slowly alter the size of the magnetospheric cavity leading to the appearance of multiple, discrete magnetospheric oscillations. We argue that for these events the discrete frequencies were an inherent property of the solar wind and were not related to a possible cavity or waveguide mode of the magnetosphere. We then show that the density fluctuations, when converted into length scales, organize into scale sizes of L = 23, 30, 45, and 80–100 RE. Finally, we speculate on a possible solar source for the periodic solar wind structures.
  • Authors

  • Kepko, L
  • Spence, Harlan
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • June 26, 2003
  • Published In


  • ULF pulsations
  • global oscillations
  • solar wind density structures
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)


  • 108
  • Issue

  • A6