Nonlinear Generation of Electromagnetic Waves Through Scattering by Thermal Electrons
Thursday, 18 December 2014
Nonlinear interactions involving whistler wave turbulence are important contributors to radiation belt dynamics, including the acceleration and loss of trapped electrons. Given sufficient whistler energy density, nonlinear scattering from thermal electrons can substantially change the wave normal angle, while inducing a small frequency shift [Ganguli et al., 2010]. This nonlinear process is being studied in the NRL Space Physics Simulation Chamber (SPSC) in scaled magnetospheric conditions. The plasma response as a function of transmitted lower hybrid wave amplitude is monitored with magnetic loop antennas. Measurements of the magnetic field vectors for the pump and daughter waves allow for the determination of wave distribution functions, which indicate the power distribution as a function of wave-normal angle and azimuthal angle. The wave distribution functions measured in the experiment demonstrate a dramatic change in propagation direction when the launched wave amplitude exceeds a small threshold (δB / B ~ 4 × 10-7). The experimental results support the theory of electromagnetic whistler wave generation through nonlinear scattering of electrostatic lower hybrid waves by thermal electrons in the Earth’s magnetosphere [Crabtree et al, 2012].