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Title: New science in plain sight: Citizen scientists lead to the discovery of optical structure in the upper atmosphere

Abstract

A glowing ribbon of purple light running east-west in the night sky has recently been observed by citizen scientists. This narrow, subauroral, visible structure, distinct from the traditional auroral oval, was largely undocumented in the scientific literature and little was known about its formation. Amateur photo sequences showed colors distinctly different from common types of aurora and occasionally indicated magnetic field–aligned substructures. Observations from the Swarm satellite as it crossed the arc have revealed an unusual level of electron temperature enhancement and density depletion, along with a strong westward ion flow, indicating that a pronounced subauroral ion drift (SAID) is associated with this structure. These early results suggest the arc is an optical manifestation of SAID, presenting new opportunities for investigation of the dynamic SAID signatures from the ground. On the basis of the measured ion properties and original citizen science name, we propose to identify this arc as a Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement (STEVE).

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [3]; ORCiD logo [4]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [5]; ORCiD logo [2];  [2]; ORCiD logo [6]; ORCiD logo [7]; ORCiD logo [8]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [1];  [2]; ORCiD logo [6]; ORCiD logo [9]
  1. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Greenbelt, MD (United States); New Mexico Consortium, Los Alamos, NM (United States)
  2. Univ. of Calgary, AB (Canada)
  3. Boston Univ., MA (United States); Univ. of California, Los Angeles, CA (United States)
  4. Lancaster Univ. (United Kingdom)
  5. Univ. of Calgary, AB (Canada); Univ. of California, Los Angeles, CA (United States)
  6. Alberta Aurora Chasers, AB (Canada)
  7. Univ. of Calgary, AB (Canada); Athabasca Univ., AB (Canada); Univ. of Western Ontario, London, ON (Canada). Dept. of Physics and Astronomy. Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration
  8. New Mexico Consortium, Los Alamos, NM (United States); Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
  9. Athabasca Univ., AB (Canada)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States); NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Greenbelt, MD (United States); Boston Univ., MA (United States); Univ. of California, Los Angeles, CA (United States); Univ. of Calgary, AB (Canada); Lancaster Univ. (United Kingdom)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE; National Science Foundation (NSF); National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA); US Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR); Canadian Space Agency (CSA); Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) (United Kingdom)
OSTI Identifier:
1483550
Report Number(s):
LA-UR-18-29256
Journal ID: ISSN 2375-2548
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC52-06NA25396; 1344296; AGS-1737823; NNX17AL22G; FA9550-15-1-0179; CSA-1006482; CSA-10006508; ST/M001059/1
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Science Advances
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 4; Journal Issue: 3; Journal ID: ISSN 2375-2548
Publisher:
AAAS
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS

Citation Formats

MacDonald, Elizabeth A., Donovan, Eric, Nishimura, Yukitoshi, Case, Nathan A., Gillies, D. Megan, Gallardo-Lacourt, Bea, Archer, William E., Spanswick, Emma L., Bourassa, Notanee, Connors, Martin, Heavner, Matthew, Jackel, Brian, Kosar, Burcu, Knudsen, David J., Ratzlaff, Chris, and Schofield, Ian. New science in plain sight: Citizen scientists lead to the discovery of optical structure in the upper atmosphere. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aaq0030.
MacDonald, Elizabeth A., Donovan, Eric, Nishimura, Yukitoshi, Case, Nathan A., Gillies, D. Megan, Gallardo-Lacourt, Bea, Archer, William E., Spanswick, Emma L., Bourassa, Notanee, Connors, Martin, Heavner, Matthew, Jackel, Brian, Kosar, Burcu, Knudsen, David J., Ratzlaff, Chris, & Schofield, Ian. New science in plain sight: Citizen scientists lead to the discovery of optical structure in the upper atmosphere. United States. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aaq0030.
MacDonald, Elizabeth A., Donovan, Eric, Nishimura, Yukitoshi, Case, Nathan A., Gillies, D. Megan, Gallardo-Lacourt, Bea, Archer, William E., Spanswick, Emma L., Bourassa, Notanee, Connors, Martin, Heavner, Matthew, Jackel, Brian, Kosar, Burcu, Knudsen, David J., Ratzlaff, Chris, and Schofield, Ian. Wed . "New science in plain sight: Citizen scientists lead to the discovery of optical structure in the upper atmosphere". United States. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aaq0030. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1483550.
@article{osti_1483550,
title = {New science in plain sight: Citizen scientists lead to the discovery of optical structure in the upper atmosphere},
author = {MacDonald, Elizabeth A. and Donovan, Eric and Nishimura, Yukitoshi and Case, Nathan A. and Gillies, D. Megan and Gallardo-Lacourt, Bea and Archer, William E. and Spanswick, Emma L. and Bourassa, Notanee and Connors, Martin and Heavner, Matthew and Jackel, Brian and Kosar, Burcu and Knudsen, David J. and Ratzlaff, Chris and Schofield, Ian},
abstractNote = {A glowing ribbon of purple light running east-west in the night sky has recently been observed by citizen scientists. This narrow, subauroral, visible structure, distinct from the traditional auroral oval, was largely undocumented in the scientific literature and little was known about its formation. Amateur photo sequences showed colors distinctly different from common types of aurora and occasionally indicated magnetic field–aligned substructures. Observations from the Swarm satellite as it crossed the arc have revealed an unusual level of electron temperature enhancement and density depletion, along with a strong westward ion flow, indicating that a pronounced subauroral ion drift (SAID) is associated with this structure. These early results suggest the arc is an optical manifestation of SAID, presenting new opportunities for investigation of the dynamic SAID signatures from the ground. On the basis of the measured ion properties and original citizen science name, we propose to identify this arc as a Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement (STEVE).},
doi = {10.1126/sciadv.aaq0030},
journal = {Science Advances},
number = 3,
volume = 4,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {3}
}

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