In other words... We saw the whole shebang. We saw the start of the active region on the Sun and it's ultimate effects at the Earth. And the crazy thing, this was a very very small geomagnetic event that we almost didn't bother looking at. But this one little event allowed us to see very clearly how interconnected the whole Sun-Earth system is.
This event has just been published at the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics.
So why should you care, besides the fact that this is just so cool? It's another step in learning how competing source and loss processes work in the Earth's radiation belts. Understanding how the radiation belts change will help us protect satellites which live in this region of space (and there are a lot of them).
Why do you care if you are a space physicist ? Because this is an event where we had an amazing conjunction of instrumentation up that was able to capture a large portion of the entire process! THEMIS was situated near noon and saw the magnetopause pushed inside its orbit. BARREL had three balloons up which mapped to a box about 2 L wide (a measure of distance from the Earth, roughly 1L = 1Earth Radii at the magnetic equator), and 2 hrs MLT long (Magnetic Local Time, think of the area of space around the Earth as a clock, looking at the Sun is noon, looking away from the Sun behind the Earth is midnight, then dawn and dusk is decided by the Earth's rotation). The figure below shows (not to scale, at least for the Sun's relative location to the Earth) where the Van Allen Probes (triangles labeled A and B), the GOES satellites (circles G15 and G13) and then three of the BARREL balloons mapped out to the magnetosphere (Diamonds labels 2K, 2X, and 2L which is slightly covered by G13).
Having the array of payloads aloft allowed us to see the effects of chorus waves relative to the electric field impulse on precipitation of the electrons. Although the electric field impulse was observed at Van Allen Probe A, which was very close to BARREL payload 2X, little to no precipitation was observed at this location. The electric field impulse may precipitate some electrons, but it seems that the chorus waves were more effective over this short and small event.
This is such a neat little event, and it was so much fun to work with all my co-authors on it. We pulled on a wide area of expertise and a large amount and different types of data. This was necessary to get the full picture of the event, and at times a bit overwhelming, but in the end oh so satisfying!