Cusp energetic particle events: Implications for a major acceleration region of the magnetosphere

Academic Article


  • The Charge and Mass Magnetospheric Ion Composition Experiment (CAMMICE) on board the Polar spacecraft observed 75 energetic particle events in 1996 while the satellite was at apogee. All of these events were associated with a decrease in the magnitude of the local magnetic field measured by the Magnetic Field Experiment (MFE) on Polar. These new events showed several unusual features: (1) They were detected in the dayside polar cusp near the apogee of Polar with about 79% of the total events in the afternoonside and 21% in the morningside; (2) an individual event could last for hours; (3) the measured helium ion had energies up to and many times in excess of 2.4 MeV; (4) the intensity of 1–200 KeV/e helium was anticorrelated with the magnitude of the local geomagnetic field but correlated with the turbulent magnetic energy density; (5) the events were associated with an enhancement of the low-frequency magnetic noise, the spectrum of which typically extends from a few hertz to a few hundreds of hertz as measured by the Plasma Wave Instrument (PWI) on Polar; and (6) a seasonal variation was found for the occurrence rate of the events with a maximum in September. These characterized a new phenomenon which we are calling cusp energetic particle (CEP) events. The observed high charge state of helium and oxygen ions in the CEP events indicates a solar source for these particles. Furthermore, the measured 0.52–1.15 MeV helium flux was proportional to the difference between the maximum and the minimum magnetic field in the event. A possible explanation is that the energetic helium ions are energized from lower energy helium by a local acceleration mechanism associated with the high-altitude dayside cusp. These observations represent a potential discovery of a major acceleration region of the magnetosphere.
  • Authors

  • Chen, JS
  • Fritz, TA
  • Sheldon, RB
  • Spence, Harlan
  • Spjeldvik, WN
  • Fennell, JF
  • Livi, S
  • Russell, CT
  • Pickett, JS
  • Gurnett, DA
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • January 1, 1998
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 69
  • End Page

  • 78
  • Volume

  • 103
  • Issue

  • A1