New Theory of Whistler Waves Observed during Magnetotail Reconnection*

Monday, 15 December 2014
Martin V Goldman, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States, Jonathan P Eastwood, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom, David L Newman, Univ Colorado, Boulder, CO, United States and Giovanni Lapenta, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
Themis measurements1 in the vicinity of dipolarization fronts in Earth's magnetotail have detected a spectrum of quasi-parallel whistler waves in a band of frequencies roughly between 0.3 and 0.7 times the electron cyclotron frequency. The whistler wave­forms are frequently punctuated by bipolar field structures interpretable as electron phase space holes. It has been sugges­ted1 that the whistlers are driven by (measured) electron temperature anisotropy and that the holes may arise from nonlinear electrostatic trapping associated with the whistlers.

Kinetic theory and simulations are used to study this interpretation in more detail and to explore an alternate explanation in which electron hole quasiparticles drive whistlers by Čerenkov emission, as recently found in reconnection simulations and explained by theory.2 Many features of the observations are consistent with the new explanation, including whistler phase velocities and frequencies.

*Work supported by NASA MMS-IDS Grant

1Deng, et al., J. Geophys. Res. 115, A09225 (2010)

2Goldman, et al., Phys. Rev. Lett, 112, 145002 (2014)