Substructures with luminosity modulation and horizontal oscillation in pulsating patch: Principal component analysis application to pulsating aurora

Takanori Nishiyama, Yoshizumi Miyoshi, Yuto Katoh, Takeshi Sakanoi, Ryuho Kataoka, Shoichi Okano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


We observed a mesoscale aurora (100 km × 100 km) with patchy structure and equatorward propagation at Poker Flat Research Range on 1 December 2011. Fast Fourier transform (FFT) analysis revealed that this pulsating patch clearly exhibited temporal variations that can be categorized into two types: on-off pulsation (7.8-10 s) with large amplitudes and luminosity modulations excited during on phase with a frequency of about 3.0 Hz. In addition, we applied principal component analysis (PCA) to time series image data of the pulsating aurora for the first time. Time coefficients were estimated by PCA for the whole patch and the substructures were consistent with those obtained from the FFT analysis, and therefore, we concluded that PCA is capable of decomposing several structures that have different coherent spatiotemporal characteristics. Another new insight in this study is that the rapid variations were highly localized; they were excited in only the substructures embedded in the whole structure. Moreover, the whole patch propagated equatorward because of E × B drift of cold plasma, while the substructures did not show such systematic propagation but rather forward-backward oscillations. The horizontal scale of the substructures was estimated to be no smaller than 410 km at the magnetic equator, which is comparable to that of the wave packet structure of a whistler mode chorus perpendicular to the field line. We suggest that the apparent horizontal oscillation of the substructures is associated with field-aligned propagations of the whistler mode chorus in a duct.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2360-2373
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research A: Space Physics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Mar 1


  • ground-based observations
  • pulsating aurora
  • small-scale aurora
  • wave-particle interactions
  • whistler mode chorus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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