An event study on broadband electric field noises and electron distributions in the lunar wake boundary

Masaki N. Nishino, Yoshiya Kasahara, Yuki Harada, Yoshifumi Saito, Hideo Tsunakawa, Atsushi Kumamoto, Shoichiro Yokota, Futoshi Takahashi, Masaki Matsushima, Hidetoshi Shibuya, Hisayoshi Shimizu, Yukinaga Miyashita, Yoshitaka Goto, Takayuki Ono

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review


Wave–particle interactions are fundamental processes in space plasma, and some plasma waves, including electrostatic solitary waves (ESWs), are recognised as broadband noises (BBNs) in the electric field spectral data. Spacecraft observations in recent decades have detected BBNs around the Moon, but the generation mechanism of the BBNs is not fully understood. Here, we study a wake boundary traversal with BBNs observed by Kaguya, which includes an ESW event previously reported by Hashimoto et al. Geophys Res Lett 37:L19204 (2010). Focusing on the relation between BBNs and electron pitch-angle distribution functions, we show that upward electron beams from the nightside lunar surface are effective for the generation of BBNs, in contrast to the original interpretation by Hashimoto et al. Geophys Res Lett 37:L19204 (2010) that high-energy electrons accelerated by strong ambipolar electric fields excite ESWs in the region far from the Moon. When the BBNs were observed by the Kaguya spacecraft in the wake boundary, the spacecraft’s location was magnetically connected to the nightside lunar surface, and bi-streaming electron distributions of downward-going solar wind strahl component and upward-going field-aligned beams (at ∼ 124 eV) were detected. The interplanetary magnetic field was dominated by a positive BZ (i.e. the northward component), and strahl electrons travelled in the antiparallel direction to the interplanetary magnetic field (i.e. southward), which enabled the strahl electrons to precipitate onto the nightside lunar surface directly. The incident solar wind electrons cause negative charging of the nightside lunar surface, which generates downward electric fields that accelerate electrons from the nightside surface toward higher altitudes along the magnetic field. The bidirectional electron distribution is not a sufficient condition for the BBN generation, and the distribution of upward electron beams seems to be correlated with the BBNs. Ambipolar electric fields in the wake boundary should also contribute to the electron acceleration toward higher altitudes and further intrusion of the solar wind ions into the deeper wake. We suggest that solar wind ion intrusion into the wake boundary is also an important factor that controls the BBN generation by facilitating the influx of solar wind electrons there. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Journalearth, planets and space
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology
  • Space and Planetary Science


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