Standing Alfven Waves Transitioned from Fast-Growing, Travelling Waves: Indications from Electron Measurements

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Xuzhi Zhou1, Zi-Han Wang1, Qiugang Zong1, Yixin Hao1, Seth G Claudepierre2, Margaret Kivelson3 and Vassilis Angelopoulos3, (1)Peking University, School of Earth and Space Sciences, Beijing, China, (2)Aerospace Corporation Santa Monica, Santa Monica, CA, United States, (3)University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, United States
Ultra-Low Frequency (ULF) electromagnetic oscillations, usually interpreted as standing Alfven waves, are a major candidate to accelerate electrons to relativistic energies in the Earth's Van Allen radiation belt. Electrons can promptly gain energy from ULF waves when they resonate with each other via a process named drift resonance, which is characterized in spacecraft observations by an energy dependence of phase differences between electron fluxes and electromagnetic oscillations. Such a dependence, recently observed by Van Allen Probes, has been presented as a most unambiguous identification of the drift-resonance electron acceleration (Claudepierre et al., 2013). In this paper, we revisit the same event to find that in the early stage of the ULF oscillations, the observed phase relationship appeared to be not fully consistent with the drift resonance theory. We further examine these apparent inconsistencies, to suggest that they arose from the fast growth of travelling Alfven waves before they were transitioned into the more typical standing waves. These observations, therefore, provide a rare opportunity to understand the generation, evolution, and particle-interaction of ULF oscillations in the Earth's magnetosphere.