Realistic electron diffusion rates and lifetimes due to scattering by electron holes
AbstractPlasma sheet electron precipitation into the diffuse aurora is critical for magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling. Recent studies have shown that electron phase space holes can pitch-angle scatter electrons and may produce plasma sheet electron precipitation. These studies have assumed identical electron hole parameters to estimate electron scattering rates (Vasko et al., 2018). In this study, we have re-evaluated the efficiency of this scattering by incorporating realistic electron hole properties from direct spacecraft observations into computing electron diffusion rates and lifetimes. The most important electron hole properties in this evaluation are their distributions in velocity and spatial scale and electric field root-mean-square intensity (). Using direct measurements of electron holes during a plasma injection event observed by the Van Allen Probe at , we find that when 4 mV/m electron lifetimes can drop below one hour and are mostly within strong diffusion limits at energies below 10 keV. During an injection observed by the THEMIS spacecraft at , electron holes with even typical intensities (1 mV/m) can deplete low-energy (a few keV) plasma sheet electrons within tens of minutes following injections and convection from the tail. Our results confirm that electron holes are a significant contributor to plasma sheet electron precipitation during injections.
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Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
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