Observations of purely compressional waves in the upper ULF band observed by the Van Allen Probes
Thursday, 18 December 2014
Purely compressional electromagnetic waves, also denoted fast magnetosonic waves, equatorial noise, and ion Bernstein modes, can both heat thermal protons and accelerate electrons up to relativistic energies. These waves have been observed both in the near-equatorial region in the inner magnetosphere and in the plasma sheet boundary layer. Although these waves have been observed by various types of satellite instruments (DC and AC magnetometers and electric field sensors), most recent studies have used data from AC sensors, and many have been restricted to frequencies above ~50 Hz. We report here on a survey of ~200 of these waves, based on DC electric and magnetic field data from the EFW double probe and EMFISIS fluxgate magnetometer instruments, respectively, on the Van Allen Probes spacecraft during its first two years of operation. The high sampling rate of these instruments makes it possible to extend observational studies of the lower frequency population of such waves to lower L shells than any previous study. These waves, often with multiple harmonics of the local proton gyrofrequency, were observed both inside and outside the plasmapause, in regions with plasma number densities ranging from 10 to >1000 cm-3. Wave occurrence was sharply peaked near the magnetic equator and occurred at L shells from below 2 to ~6 (the spacecraft apogee). Waves appeared at all local times but were more common from noon to dusk. Outside the plasmapause, occurrence maximized broadly across noon. Inside the plasmapause, occurrence maximized in the dusk sector, in an extended plasmasphere. Every event occurred in association with a positive gradient in the HOPE omnidirectional proton flux in the range between 2 keV and 10 keV. The Poynting vector, determined for 8 events, was in all cases directed transverse to B, but with variable azimuth, consistent with earlier models and observations.