Explaining the dynamics of the ultra-relativistic third Van Allen radiation belt

Author
Keywords
Abstract
Since the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts over 50 years ago, an explanation for their complete dynamics has remained elusive. Especially challenging is understanding the recently discovered ultra-relativistic third electron radiation belt. Current theory asserts that loss in the heart of the outer belt, essential to the formation of the third belt, must be controlled by high-frequency plasma wave\textendashparticle scattering into the atmosphere, via whistler mode chorus, plasmaspheric hiss, or electromagnetic ion cyclotron waves. However, this has failed to accurately reproduce the third belt. Using a datadriven, time-dependent specification of ultra-low-frequency (ULF) waves we show for the first time how the third radiation belt is established as a simple, elegant consequence of storm-time extremely fast outward ULF wave transport. High-frequency wave\textendashparticle scattering loss into the atmosphere is not needed in this case. When rapid ULF wave transport coupled to a dynamic boundary is accurately specified, the sensitive dynamics controlling the enigmatic ultra-relativistic third radiation belt are naturally explained.
Year of Publication
2016
Journal
Nature Physics
Date Published
06/2016
ISSN Number
1745-2473
URL
http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/nphys3799
DOI
10.1038/nphys3799