Whistler-cyclotron spontaneous fluctuations as a proxy to identify thermal and non-thermal electrons in the solar wind

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Pablo S Moya1,2, Adolfo F. Vinas1, Roberto Navarro3 and Jaime A Araneda4, (1)NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Heliophysics Division, Geospace Physics Laboratory, Mail Code 673, Greenbelt, MD, United States, (2)Catholic University of America, Department of Physics, Washington, DC, United States, (3)Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile, (4)Univ. Concepcion, Concepcion, Chile
Observed electron velocity distributions in the solar wind exhibit a variety of non-thermal features which deviate from thermal equilibrium, in the form of temperature anisotropies, suprathermal tails, and field aligned beams. The state close to thermal equilibrium and its departure from it provides a source for spontaneous emissions of electromagnetic fluctuations as for example the whistler cyclotron waves at electron scales. Here we present a comparative analysis of these fluctuations based upon anisotropic plasma modeled with thermal and non-thermal particle distributions. The analysis presented here considers the second-order theory of fluctuations and the dispersion relation of weakly transverse fluctuations, with wave vectors parallel to the uniform background magnetic field, in a finite temperature isotropic thermal bi-Maxwellian and non-thermal Tsallis-kappa-like magnetized electron–proton plasma. Dispersion analysis and stability thresholds are derived for these non-thermal distributions and compared with similar results obtained from PIC simulations using plasma and field parameters relevant to the solar wind environments. Our results indicate that there is a strong dependence between the shape of the velocity distribution function and the topological regions in the frequency-wave number plane in which the spontaneous fluctuations emerge. In the case of non-thermal plasmas there is an enhancement of the fluctuations level due to the effective higher-temperature effects and the excess of suprathermal particles. This feature may be used proxy to identify the nature of electron populations in space plasmas when high resolution particle instruments are not available.