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Resonant Scattering of Radiation Belt Electrons by Off-Equatorial Magnetosonic Waves

Fast magnetosonic (MS) waves are commonly regarded as electromagnetic waves that are characteristically confined within \textpm3\textdegree of the geomagnetic equator. We report two typical off-equatorial MS events observed by Van Allen Probes, that is, the 8 May 2014 event that occurred at the geomagnetic latitudes of 7.5\textdegree\textendash9.2\textdegree both inside and outside the plasmasphere with the wave amplitude up to 590 pT and the 9 January 2014 event that occurred at the latitudes of\textemdash(15.7\textdegree\textendash17.5\textdegree) outside the plasmasphere with a smaller amplitude about 81 pT. Detailed test particle simulations quantify the electron resonant scattering rates by the off-equatorial MS waves to find that they can cause the pitch angle scattering and momentum diffusion of radiation belt electrons with equatorial pitch angles < ~75\textdegree or < ~58\textdegree (depending on the wave latitudinal coverage) on timescales of a day. Subsequent two-dimensional Fokker-Planck diffusion simulations indicate that the strong off-equatorial MS waves are capable of efficiently transporting high pitch angle electrons to lower pitch angles to facilitate the formation of radiation belt electron butterfly distributions for a broad energy range from ~100 keV to >1 MeV within an hour. Our study clearly demonstrates that the presence of off-equatorial MS waves, in addition to equatorial MS waves, can contribute importantly to the dynamical variations of radiation belt electron fluxes and their pitch angle distribution.

Ni, Binbin; Zou, Zhengyang; Fu, Song; Cao, Xing; Gu, Xudong; Xiang, Zheng;

Published by: Geophysical Research Letters      Published on: 02/2018

YEAR: 2018     DOI: 10.1002/grl.v45.310.1002/2017GL075788

butterfly pitch angle distributions; off-equatorial MS waves; radiation belt electrons; Van Allen Probes


Occurrence Characteristics of Outer Zone Relativistic Electron Butterfly Distribution: A Survey of Van Allen Probes REPT Measurements

Using Van Allen Probes REPT pitch angle resolved electron flux data from September 2012 to March 2015, we investigate in detail the global occurrence pattern of equatorial (|λ| <= 3\textdegree) butterfly distribution of outer zone relativistic electrons and its potential correlation with the solar wind dynamic pressure. The statistical results demonstrate that these butterfly distributions occur with the highest occurrence rate ~ 80\% at ~ 20 \textendash 04 MLT and L > ~ 5.5 and with the second peak (> ~ 50 \%) at ~ 11 \textendash 15 MLT of lower L-shells ~ 4.0. They can also extend to L = 3.5 and to other MLT intervals but with the occurrence rates predominantly < ~25\%. It is further shown that outer zone relativistic electron butterfly distributions are likely to peak between 58\textdegree - 79\textdegree for L = 4.0 and 5.0 and between 37\textdegree - 58\textdegree for L = 6.0, regardless of the level of solar wind dynamic pressure. Relativistic electron butterfly distributions at L = 4.0 also exhibit a pronounced day-night asymmetry in response to the Pdynvariations. Compared to the significant L-shell and MLT dependence of the global occurrence pattern, outer zone relativistic electron butterfly distributions show much less but still discernable sensitivity to Pdyn, geomagnetic activity level, and electron energy, the full understanding of which requires future attempts of detailed simulations that combine and differentiate underlying physical mechanisms of the geomagnetic field asymmetry and scattering by various magnetospheric waves.

Ni, Binbin; Zou, Zhengyang; Li, Xinlin; Bortnik, Jacob; Xie, Lun; Gu, Xudong;

Published by: Geophysical Research Letters      Published on: 05/2016

YEAR: 2016     DOI: 10.1002/2016GL069350

butterfly pitch angle distributions; global occurrence pattern; outer radiation belt; relativistic electrons; Van Allen Probes