Van Allen Probes observations of direct wave-particle interactions

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Abstract

Quasiperiodic increases, or “bursts,” of 17–26 keV electron fluxes in conjunction with chorus wave bursts were observed following a plasma injection on 13 January 2013. The pitch angle distributions changed during the burst events, evolving from sinN(α) to distributions that formed maxima at α = 75–80°, while fluxes at 90° and <60° remained nearly unchanged. The observations occurred outside of the plasmasphere in the postmidnight region and were observed by both Van Allen Probes. Density, cyclotron frequency, and pitch angle of the peak flux were used to estimate resonant electron energy. The result of ~15–35 keV is consistent with the energies of the electrons showing the flux enhancements and corresponds to electrons in and above the steep flux gradient that signals the presence of an Alfvén boundary in the plasma. The cause of the quasiperiodic nature (on the order of a few minutes) of the bursts is not understood at this time.

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