Articles | Volume 29, issue 10
05 Oct 2011
 | 05 Oct 2011

Whistler-Langmuir oscillitons and their relation to auroral hiss

K. Sauer and R. D. Sydora

Abstract. A new type of oscilliton (soliton with superimposed spatial oscillations) is described which arises in plasmas if the electron cyclotron frequency Ωe is larger than the electron plasma frequency ωe, which is a typical situation for auroral regions in planetary magnetospheres. Both high-frequency modes of concern, the Langmuir and the whistler wave, are completely decoupled if they propagate parallel to the magnetic field. However, for oblique propagation two mixed modes are created with longitudinal and transverse electric field components. The lower mode (in the literature commonly called the whistler mode, e.g. Gurnett et al., 1983) has whistler wave characteristics at small wave numbers and asymptotically transforms into the Langmuir mode. As a consequence of the coupling between these two modes, with different phase velocity dependence, a maximum in phase velocity appears at finite wave number. The occurrence of such a particular point where phase and group velocity coincide creates the condition for the existence of a new type of oscillating nonlinear stationary structure, which we call the whistler-Langmuir (WL) oscilliton. After determining, by means of stationary dispersion theory, the parameter regime in which WL oscillitons exist, their spatial profiles are calculated within the framework of cold (non-relativistic) fluid theory. Particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations are used to demonstrate the formation of WL oscillitons which seem to play an important role in understanding electron beam-excited plasma radiation that is observed as auroral hiss in planetary magnetospheres far away from the source region.