The role of waves in the propagation, scattering and energization of electrons in the solar wind has long been a topic of interest. Conversely, understanding the excitation of waves by energetic electrons can provide us with a diagnostic for the processes that accelerate the electrons. We will discuss two different processes: (1) the interaction of narrowband whistler-mode waves with solar wind electrons, and (2) how periodic Type III radio bursts yield clues to small-scale acceleration of energetic electrons in the solar corona. Waveform captures in the solar wind at 1 AU obtained by the STEREO revealed the existence of narrowband large amplitude whistler mode waves, propagating at highly oblique angles to the magnetic field. Similar waves are less commonly seen inside .2 AU by Parker Solar Probe. The differences provide clues for understanding electron propagation, scattering and energization. Type III radio bursts have long been used as remote probes of electron acceleration in the solar corona. The occurrence of periodic behavior in Type III bursts observed by Parker Solar Probe, Wind and STEREO when there are no observable flares provides a unique opportunity to diagnose small-scale acceleration of electrons in the corona. Periodicities of ~ 5 minutes in the Solar Dynamics Observatory Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) Extreme Ultraviolet data in several areas of an active region are well correlated with the repetition rate of the Type III radio bursts. Similar periods occur in the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI )data. These results provide evidence for acceleration by wave-modulated reconnection or small-scale size waves, such as kinetic Alfven waves, even during intervals with no observable flares. The possible connections between these two phenomena will be addressed.
Microbursts are impulsive (<1s) injections of electrons (few keV to >MeV) from the outer radiation belt into the atmosphere, primarily caused by nonlinear scattering by chorus waves. Although attempts have been made to quantify their contribution to outer belt electron loss, the uncertainty in the overall size and duration of the microburst region is typically large, so that their contribution to outer belt loss is uncertain. We combine datasets that measure chorus waves (Van Allen Probes (RBSP), Arase, ground-based VLF stations) and microburst (>30 keV) precipitation (FIREBIRD II and AC6 CubeSats, POES/MetOp) to determine the size of the microburst-producing chorus source region beginning on 5 December 2017. We show that the lower/upper limits on the long-lasting (~30 hours) microburst precipitation region is 4 to 8 MLT and 2 to 8.5 L. We conclude that microbursts likely represent a major loss source of outer radiation belt electrons for this event.
Whistler-mode waves have often been proposed as a plausible mechanism for pitch angle scattering and energization of electron populations in the solar wind. Theoretical work suggested that whistler waves with wave vectors parallel to the interplanetary magnetic field must counter-propagate (sunward) to the electrons for resonant interactions to occur. However, recent studies reveal the existence of obliquely propagating, high amplitude, and coherent waves consistent with the whistler-mode. Initial results from a particle tracing simulation demonstrated that these waves were able to scatter and energize electrons. That simulation was limited and did not examine a broad range of electron distributions. We have adapted the original particle tracing code for the solar wind with wave parameters observed by the STEREO satellites and to model core, halo and strahl electrons. Simulations are run to record the response of a wide initial phase space volume with uniform waves and wave packets. Using a Hamiltonian analysis, resonant responses at different harmonics of the cyclotron frequency are included in the simulation. A numerical integration scheme that combines the Hamiltonian analysis and the relativistic 3d particle tracing deployed on a high performance cluster enables accurate mapping and large-scale statistical studies of phase space responses. Observations of electron distributions from WIND at 1 AU are used for normalization. This enables extrapolations for core, halo, and strahl electrons evolution with the numerical Green’s function method. Results provide evidence for pitch angle broadening of the strahl and energization of core and halo electrons. This model can also provide results that are applicable to a number of different wave-particle interactions in the heliosphere for comparison to in-situ measurements.
Type III radio bursts are associated with energetic electrons accelerated by solar flares from the lower corona. The standard theory links these emissions to a conversion of plasma oscillations excited by the bump-on-tail instability into electromagnetic waves. Since electron beams can propagate to large heliospheric distances and continue to emit radio waves, the instability must be finely balanced, not to disrupt their propagation (so-called Sturrock’s dilemma). To explain this, many models invoking contrasting processes have been proposed (e.g. quasilinear vs strong turbulence description of interactions between various plasma modes). In this study, we perform 2D PIC simulations of beam injection, propagation, and emissions in a large system without periodic boundary conditions. Results demonstrate that the beam decouples from the excited electrostatic oscillations near the injection site and propagates through the background plasma with relatively small energy loss. Downstream, the instability continues to operate only at the beam front. The main body of the beam between downstream and upstream reaches a quasi-steady state. It may become unstable again where the background plasma is colder or less dense. Background temperature variations affect the beam instability more than background density fluctuations. Radio emissions at plasma frequency and its second harmonic are primarily generated upstream in the region of intense fluctuations, where both classical signatures of three-wave conversion processes and those associated with modulational instability are detected. Our results are consistent with satellite data showing that electron beams often continue to generate type III radio bursts even beyond 1 AU. They illustrate in a first-principle model how a beam state consistent with subsequent quasilinear relaxation emerges shortly after beam injection.
Whistler-mode waves have often been proposed as a plausible mechanism for pitch angle scattering and energization of electron populations in the solar wind. Recent studies reported observations of obliquely propagating and narrowband waves consistent with the whistler mode at 1 AU. Close to 0.3 AU, similar waves have also been observed in PSP data, where evidence of strong scattering of strahl electrons indicates that these waves regulate the electron heat flux. At both radial distances, the wave amplitude can be as high as 10% of the ambient magnetic field. The oblique propagation angle enables resonant interactions without requiring that the electrons counter-stream with the waves. Self-consistent PIC simulations by Roberg-Clark et al (2019) and Micera et al (2020) studied the strahl scattering and subsequent halo formation due to anomalous resonant interactions enabled by oblique whistlers generated from the heat flux fan instability. Observational studies of whistlers near the Sun have also concluded that they are connected to this instability. Cattell and Vo (2021) also demonstrated the same features of the scattering from a particle tracing simulation, one advantage of which is the ability to calculate kinetic quantities such as the diffusion coefficients. Also, the tracing code includes variational calculations to ensure energy conservation in the presence of highly chaotic dynamics. In this study, we investigate in more detail the resonant interactions of electrons with these high amplitude and oblique whistlers. We will show that these waves at 0.3 AU may exceed the stochasticity condition where resonance overlap occurs. Furthermore, the stochastic width around the primary islands might be large enough that diffusion is enabled even before they overlap. In simulations with 1 AU parameters, the particle motion is strongly stochastic where all harmonics significantly overlap, leading to an isotropic pitch angle diffusion which forms the halo population. Our calculations also indicate the presence of higher-order effects, allowing for sub- and super-harmonic resonant interactions.
We report observational evidence for a class of coherent magnetic dipolarization structures that are long lived and radially extensive. The reported dipolarization structures, a subset of general dipolarizations, typically remain coherent over 20-30 min in real time, 3-6 hours in MLT, and 10-20 Re in radial distance. Arrays of more than three spacecraft in non-collinear geometry are used to determine the propagation vector, including both the normal speed and direction, of such dipolarizations in the equatorial plane. The determined azimuthal propagation is ~3 deg/min, which corresponds to ~50 km/s at 6.6 Re. This speed is consistent with those obtained from two azimuthally separated spacecraft in previous works. Further analysis suggests that these azimuthally propagating dipolarizations (APDs) are often finger-like in shape, ranging from 5 to 20 Re in length and several Re in width. The reported APD may accompany the earthward flow channel and dipolarizing flux bundle (DFB).