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Diffuse and Pulsating Aurora


This chapter reviews fundamental properties and recent advances of diffuse and pulsating aurora. Diffuse and pulsating aurora often occurs on closed field lines and involves energetic electron precipitation by wave-particle interaction. After summarizing the definition, large-scale morphology, types of pulsation, and driving processes, we review observation techniques, occurrence, duration, altitude, evolution, small-scale structures, fast modulation, relation to high-energy precipitation, the role of ECH waves, reflected and secondary electrons, ionosphere dynamics, and simulation of wave-particle interaction. Finally we discuss open questions of diffuse and pulsating aurora.

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The work of Y.N. was supported by NASA grant NNX17AL22G and 80NSSC18K0657, NSF grants PLR-1341359, AGS-1737823, and AFOSR FA9559-16-1-0364. The work by NP was supported by the Research Council of Norway under CoE contract 223252. Y.K., Y.M., and K.H. are supported by JSPS Kakenhi (15H05747). Y.K, and Y.M are supported by JSPS Kakenhi (15H05815). Y.M is supported by JSPS Kakenhi (16H06286). Y.K is supported by JSPS Kakenhi (18H03727). Y.K., Y.M., and K.H. are supported by the International Space Science Institutes Beijing (ISSI-BJ) International Team program. The work of NS was supported by NASA Earth & Space Science Fellowship Program grant 80NSSC17K0433. The THEMIS mission and all-sky imagers are supported by NASA contract NAS5-02099, CSA contract 9F007-046101 and NSF grant AGS-1004736. ML was supported by NASA grant 80NSSC18K0950. DKW was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) of the UK under grant NE/N004051/1. The PWING imager was installed and operated by the pulsating aurora project ( and PWING project (

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Correspondence to Yukitoshi Nishimura.

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Auroral Physics

Edited by David Knudsen, Joe Borovsky, Tomas Karlsson, Ryuho Kataoka and Noora Partmies

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Nishimura, Y., Lessard, M.R., Katoh, Y. et al. Diffuse and Pulsating Aurora. Space Sci Rev 216, 4 (2020).

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  • Pulsating aurora
  • Diffuse aurora
  • Wave-particle interaction
  • Whistler-mode chorus
  • Energetic electron precipitation