Ultrarelativistic electron butterfly distributions created by parallel acceleration due to magnetosonic waves

TitleUltrarelativistic electron butterfly distributions created by parallel acceleration due to magnetosonic waves
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsLi, J, Bortnik, J, Thorne, RM, Li, W, Ma, Q, Baker, DN, Reeves, GD, Fennell, JF, Spence, HE, Kletzing, CA, Kurth, WS, Hospodarsky, GB, Angelopoulos, V, J. Blake, B
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Volume121
Issue4
Pagination3212 - 3222
Date Published04/2016
Keywordsbutterfly distributions; Landau resonance; magnetosonic waves; Radiation belt; Van Allen Probes
AbstractThe Van Allen Probe observations during the recovery phase of a large storm that occurred on 17 March 2015 showed that the ultrarelativistic electrons at the inner boundary of the outer radiation belt (L* = 2.6–3.7) exhibited butterfly pitch angle distributions, while the inner belt and the slot region also showed evidence of sub-MeV electron butterfly distributions. Strong magnetosonic waves were observed in the same regions and at the same time periods as these butterfly distributions. Moreover, when these magnetosonic waves extended to higher altitudes (L* = 4.1), the butterfly distributions also extended to the same region. Combining test particle calculations and Fokker-Planck diffusion simulations, we successfully reproduced the formation of the ultrarelativistic electron butterfly distributions, which primarily result from parallel acceleration caused by Landau resonance with magnetosonic waves. The coexistence of ultrarelativistic electron butterfly distributions with magnetosonic waves was also observed in the 24 June 2015 storm, providing further support that the magnetosonic waves play a key role in forming butterfly distributions.
URLhttp://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/2016JA022370
DOI10.1002/2016JA022370
Short TitleJ. Geophys. Res. Space Physics


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