Electron Acceleration in the Heart of the Van Allen Radiation Belts

TitleElectron Acceleration in the Heart of the Van Allen Radiation Belts
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsReeves, GD, Spence, HE, Henderson, MG, Morley, SK, Friedel, RHW, Funsten, HO, Baker, DN, Kanekal, SG, Blake, JB, Fennell, JF, Claudepierre, SG, Thorne, RM, Turner, DL, Kletzing, CA, Kurth, WS, Larsen, BA, Niehof, JT
JournalScience
Volume341
Issue6149
Pagination991 - 994
Date Published07/2013
ISSN0036-8075
KeywordsVan Allen Probes
AbstractThe Van Allen radiation belts contain ultrarelativistic electrons trapped in Earth’s magnetic field. Since their discovery in 1958, a fundamental unanswered question has been how electrons can be accelerated to such high energies. Two classes of processes have been proposed: transport and acceleration of electrons from a source population located outside the radiation belts (radial acceleration) or acceleration of lower-energy electrons to relativistic energies in situ in the heart of the radiation belts (local acceleration). We report measurements from NASA’s Van Allen Radiation Belt Storm Probes that clearly distinguish between the two types of acceleration. The observed radial profiles of phase space density are characteristic of local acceleration in the heart of the radiation belts and are inconsistent with a predominantly radial acceleration process.
URLhttp://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi/10.1126/science.1237743
DOI10.1126/science.1237743
Short TitleScience


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