Articles | Volume 17, issue 5
Ann. Geophys., 17, 631–638, 1999

Special issue: Solar System Plasmas

Ann. Geophys., 17, 631–638, 1999

  31 May 1999

31 May 1999

Resonant enhancement of relativistic electron fluxes during geomagnetically active periods

I. Roth1, M. Temerin1, and M. K. Hudson2 I. Roth et al.
  • 1Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
  • e-mail:
  • 2Physics and Astronomy Department, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755, USA

Abstract. The strong increase in the flux of relativistic electrons during the recovery phase of magnetic storms and during other active periods is investigated with the help of Hamiltonian formalism and simulations of test electrons which interact with whistler waves. The intensity of the whistler waves is enhanced significantly due to injection of 10-100 keV electrons during the substorm. Electrons which drift in the gradient and curvature of the magnetic field generate the rising tones of VLF whistler chorus. The seed population of relativistic electrons which bounce along the inhomogeneous magnetic field, interacts resonantly with the whistler waves. Whistler wave propagating obliquely to the magnetic field can interact with energetic electrons through Landau, cyclotron, and higher harmonic resonant interactions when the Doppler-shifted wave frequency equals any (positive or negative) integer multiple of the local relativistic gyrofrequency. Because the gyroradius of a relativistic electron may be the order of or greater than the perpendicular wavelength, numerous cyclotron, harmonics can contribute to the resonant interaction which breaks down the adiabatic invariant. A similar process diffuses the pitch angle leading to electron precipitation. The irreversible changes in the adiabatic invariant depend on the relative phase between the wave and the electron, and successive resonant interactions result in electrons undergoing a random walk in energy and pitch angle. This resonant process may contribute to the 10-100 fold increase of the relativistic electron flux in the outer radiation belt, and constitute an interesting relation between substorm-generated waves and enhancements in fluxes of relativistic electrons during geomagnetic storms and other active periods.

Key words. Magnetospheric physics (energetic particles · trapped; plasma waves and instabilities; storms and substorms)

Special issue