Dynamics of energetic electrons in nonstationary quasi-perpendicular shocks

Shuichi Matsukiyo, Manfred Scholer

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    10 Citations (Scopus)


    A one-dimensional full particle-in-cell (PIC) code is utilized to investigate energetic electron bursts produced at a nonstationary quasi-perpendicular shock. A number of electrons are intermittently energized by interacting with nonstationary electromagnetic fields in the shock front. Some of the energetic electrons are reflected at the shock and form an upstream non-thermal population. The reflection process is strongly affected by the non-coplanar magnetic field component which is temporarily rather strong in the transition region of a highly nonstationary shock. Oblique whistler waves in the transition region influence the distribution function of the reflected electrons. Waves excited by the modified two-stream instability may pitch angle scatter the electrons and thus blur the loss cone feature of the reflected electrons. Dispersive standing whistler waves are also emitted locally in the foot even when a Mach number exceeds a critical value. These whistler waves may also scatter the electrons to blur the loss cone. Furthermore, the whistler waves produce clumps of the reflected electrons in a phase space. Some electrons are trapped by the ion holes produced downstream as a remnant of a self-reformation process of the shock front and accelerated through a drift mechanism. It is also discussed how physical quantities associated with the reflected electrons observed upstream of the shock can give information about the shock front nonstationarity as well as about local small scale wave activities in the transition region.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberA11105
    JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Space and Planetary Science
    • Geophysics


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