Hybrid Simulations of Pickup Ions and Ion Cyclotron Waves at Enceladus
Friday, 19 December 2014
Saturn’s moon Enceladus releases tens of kilograms per second of water-group neutrals from its southern plumes. These neutrals are ionized and accelerated by the background co-rotation electric field, producing a local population of pickup ions with a ring distribution in velocity space. This velocity space distribution is highly unstable to the growth of electromagnetic ion cyclotron waves whose amplitudes are generally related to the pickup ion production rate, the mass of the pickup ion, the pickup velocity, and the degree of damping by the background plasma. Observations from the Cassini spacecraft show the amplitudes of the waves generally increase with distance within 2 Enceladus radii of the Moon, consistent with an increasing density of pickup ion source, but then decrease right at the Moon, consistent with zero pickup velocity in the stagnating plasma flow. In order to interpret the observed wave amplitudes in terms of ion production rates at Enceladus, we carry out self-consistent hybrid simulations of the growth of ion cyclotron waves from pickup ions to determine the relationship between wave amplitude and background plasma and ion pickup conditions.