loading page

Occurrence statistics of horse collar aurora
  • +1
  • Gemma E. Bower,
  • Stephen E. Milan,
  • Larry J. Paxton,
  • Brian J. Anderson
Gemma E. Bower
University of Leicester

Corresponding Author:geb21@leicester.ac.uk

Author Profile
Stephen E. Milan
University of Leicester
Author Profile
Larry J. Paxton
Johns Hopkins University
Author Profile
Brian J. Anderson
John Hopkins Univ.
Author Profile


Horse collar aurora (HCA) are an auroral feature where the dawn and dusk sector auroral oval moves polewards and the polar cap becomes teardrop shaped. They form during prolonged periods of northward IMF, when the IMF clock angle is small. Their formation has been linked to dual-lobe reconnection (DLR) closing magnetic flux at the dayside magnetopause. The conditions necessary for DLR are currently not well-understood therefore understanding HCA statistics will allow DLR to be studied in more detail. We have identified over 600 HCA events between 2010 and 2016 in UV images captured by the Special Sensor Ultraviolet Spectrographic Imager (SSUSI) instrument on-board the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) spacecraft F16, F17 and F18. As expected, there is a clear preference for HCA occurring during northward IMF. We find no clear seasonal dependence in their occurrence, with an average of 8 HCA events per month. The occurrence of HCA events does not appear to depend on the Bx component of the IMF, suggesting that Bx does not modulate the rate of lobe reconnection. Considering the average radiance intensity across the dusk-dawn meridian shows the HCA as a separate bulge inside the auroral oval and that the dawn side arc of the HCA is usually brighter than the dusk in the Lyman-Birge-Hopfield short band (LBHs). We relate this to the expected field aligned current (FAC) pattern of HCA formation. We further suggest that transpolar arcs observed in the dawn sector simultaneously in both northern and southern hemispheres are misidentified HCA.