I'm so cheering these latest in situ
findings Michael. 100,000 ampere Birkeland currents. I think Birkeland would kick back and enjoy this as much as I DO!!!
650,000 Amp whatnow? Hehe...
(NASA Spacecraft Make New Discoveries About Northern Lights)
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/themi ... ights.html
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/themi ... multi.html
http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/2037 ... er_400.jpg
From many moons ago now.
Now, on another note, I might have been slightly off... But not by much. This new report, if I understand correctly, talks about the magnetotail with respect to the currents.
However, it still appears to be the same process as the "magnetic flux ropes" yadda yadda... IE, field aligned currents. And we know that the field-aligned currents trace all the way back to the sun.
We also know that the auroras shine 24-7 in the UV portion of the spectrum. Even if we can't see them in the visible band, satellites pick them up in the frequencies they see...
(Auroras in Broad Daylight)
Why is that important? Well, the auroras are an electric phenomenon. If they're constantly lit up, it means they're constantly receiving a current. Take away the current from a neon tube and it quickly turns off and stops emitting. So, it seems the current input into our auroras is a constant thing. Sure there are power surges that give more impressive visible light shows. But it's always there. That seems to argue for a continuous circuit, rather than an intermittent electrostatic discharge. The question then becomes where the driving force behind the circuit comes from to sustain it...
I tend to think that the electric sun model is the right one. More or less, the sun is the central electrode od the system and the planets constitute minor loads in the overall solar system circuit diagram.
Kind of like the really old analogy I used a year ago of the solar "plasma lamp," with the planets acting like fingers pressed against the glass attracting more-or-less permanent currents to those points.