Quasi-periodic rapid motion of pulsating auroras

Yoko Fukuda, Ryuho Kataoka, Yoshizumi Miyoshi, Yuto Katoh, Takanori Nishiyama, Kazuo Shiokawa, Yusuke Ebihara, Donald Hampton, Naomoto Iwagami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


We report rapid motion of pulsating auroras associated with so called ​3 ± 1 Hz modulations embedded in the main pulsations. During the pulsation ON phase, repetitive expansions are often observed around the edges of pulsating patches. Some events show a few detached expansions traveling away from the main deformed pulsating patch. Approximately 80% of all expansion speeds were found to be less than 70 km s−1 at ionospheric altitudes, which is less than the projected Alfvén speed from the magnetospheric equator to the ionosphere. The rapid motions with speeds of tens of km s−1 are unlikely to be explained by obliquely propagating chorus elements, which are known to cause the 3 ± 1 Hz modulation, because the perpendicular speed of the oblique chorus waves is higher than the Alfvén speed. We discuss the slow-mode Alfvén wave as a candidate modulation source to generate the rapid motions. A few non-repetitive expansion events with a speed of more than 150 km s−1 also appear at the onset of the ON phase. These non-repetitive expanding motions are characterized by a long displacement compared to the repetitive expanding motions. The differences in the expansion speeds indicate different formation mechanisms of the patch motions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-191
Number of pages9
JournalPolar Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • High-speed imaging
  • Pulsating aurora
  • Wave-particle interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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