Investigations of the Many Distinct Types of Auroras

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this chapter, the many distinct types of auroras are introduced and briefly explained. Background is given on auroral studies throughout history, and the broad categories of diffuse and discrete aurora are explained. The field-aligned current system, auroral acceleration regions, and auroral oval are introduced. The diffuse aurora, and the pitch angle diffusion resulting from wave-particle interactions that generate the diffuse aurora are then covered more extensively, including more recent investigations. The two primary acceleration mechanisms that generate the discrete aurora, inverted-V acceleration and Alfvénic acceleration, are examined in detail. Temporal changes in the aurora, particularly over the course of an auroral substorm, are the subject of the next section, followed by small-scale deformations of auroral arcs such as curls, folds, spirals, omega bands, and streamers. Finally, investigations of localized aurora that deviate from the classic auroral oval are presented, such as cusp aurora, detached dayside aurora, and evening corotating patches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAuroral Dynamics and Space Weather
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781118978719
ISBN (Print)9781118978702
StatePublished - Nov 20 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 by the American Geophysical Union. All rights reserved.


  • Auroral studies
  • Diffuse aurora
  • Discrete aurora
  • Dynamic aurora
  • Small-scale auroral structures

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