The impact of geocoronal density on ring current development

R. Ilie, R. M. Skoug, H. O. Funsten, M. W. Liemohn, J. J. Bailey, M. Gruntman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Long-term ring current decay following a magnetic storm is mainly due to charge exchange collisions of ring current ions with geocoronal neutral atoms forming energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) that leave the ring current system. Therefore, the density distribution of these cold and tenuous neutral hydrogen atoms plays a key role in the ring current recovery. TWINS ENA images provide a direct measurement of these ENA losses and therefore insight into the dynamics of the ring current decay through interactions with the geocorona. To assess the influence of geocoronal neutrals on ring current decay, we compare the predicted ENA emission using five different geocoronal models and the HEIDI ring current model to simulate the July 22, 2009 storm.We show that for high energy H+(≥100keV), all geocoronal models predict similar decay rates of the ring current ions. However, for low energy ions (≤100keV), the decay rate varies significantly depending on the geocoronal density model. Comparison with TWINS ENA images shows that the location of the peak ENA enhancements is highly dependent on the distribution of geocoronal hydrogen density. The ring current topology depends greatly on the hydrogen model used, therefore knowing the H-distribution is very important in understanding how the ring current recovers following a magnetic storm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-103
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics
StatePublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Geocorona
  • Inner magnetosphere
  • Modeling
  • Ring current

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science


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