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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 27, issue 1
Ann. Geophys., 27, 279–296, 2009
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-27-279-2009
© Author(s) 2009. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 27, 279–296, 2009
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-27-279-2009
© Author(s) 2009. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  16 Jan 2009

16 Jan 2009

Meteor plasma trails: effects of external electric field

Y. S. Dimant1, M. M. Oppenheim1, and G. M. Milikh2 Y. S. Dimant et al.
  • 1Boston University, Boston, MA, USA
  • 2University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA

Abstract. Meteoroids traversing the E-region ionosphere leave behind extended columns of elevated ionization known as the meteor plasma trails. To accurately interpret radar signals from trails and use them for diagnostics, one needs to model plasma processes associated with their structure and evolution. This paper describes a 3-D quantitative theory of the electrostatic interaction between a dense plasma trail, the ionosphere, and a DC electric field driven by an external dynamo. A simplified water-bag model of the meteor plasma shows that the highly conducting trail efficiently short-circuits the ionosphere and creates a vast region of currents that flow through and around the trail. We predict that the trail can induce electric fields reaching a few V/m, both perpendicular and parallel to the geomagnetic field. The former may drive plasma instabilities, while the latter may lead to strong heating of ionospheric electrons. We discuss physical and observational implications of these processes.

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