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Title: Spectral studies of small-scale auroral structure and plasma instability in the high-latitude ionosphere
Author: Sullivan, Joanna Mary
ISNI:       0000 0004 2674 9247
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2008
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Optical measurements of small-scale auroral structures are here combined with spectrographic data in order to study the relationship between auroral morphology and the energy characteristics of the precipitating population. It is shown that rayed auroral structures are associated with precipitating electrons with a broad range in energy, including a significant population at energies of around 100 eV. In comparison, observations of fast-moving auroral arc elements are shown to result from precipitation energy distributions peaking at several keV with a very small low-energy component. This spectrographic information feeds directly into the study of naturally enhanced ion-acoustic lines, or NEIALs, which have been observed by incoherent-scatter radars at high-latitudes. It has been proposed that these radar enhancements result from natural plasma instability, causing the generation of ion-acoustic waves through the decay of unstable Langmuir waves, themselves driven by low-energy electron streams. Using multi-spectral imaging in combination with radar observations, a direct link is shown between ion-acoustic wave enhancements and precipitating electrons at 100 eV energies. Wave enhancements at the radar wavevector which are three orders of magnitude above the thermal level, are successfully modelled using the Langmuir decay interpretation for the time of observation. Electron populations with a broad energy range are thought to result from Alfv´enic acceleration mechanisms, which play an important role in the generation of smallscale auroral structure. With the recent advancements in multi-spectral imaging, it is now possible to resolve auroral filaments of a few hundred meters width. An interferometric imaging capability is under development for the EISCAT Svalbard Radar system, in order to resolve scattering wave structures on similar spatial scales within the radar beam. A technique is demonstrated by which to calibrate the position of coherent echoes detected by the interferometer. This will be of great use in clarifying the role of precipitating electron beams in turbulent plasma processes on small scales.
Supervisor: Lanchester, Betty ; Lockwood, Mike Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: QB Astronomy ; TL Motor vehicles. Aeronautics. Astronautics ; QC Physics