Langmuir “snakes” and electrostatic decay in the solar wind



[1] When Langmuir waves are driven by an electron beam to large amplitudes, they can undergo electrostatic (ES) decay to smaller wave numbers via a series of backscatters. Truncated ES decay, where the number of backscatters is reduced due to damping, is modeled here using the three-dimensional ES Zakharov equations. Langmuir beats develop in “snake”-like structures parallel to the electron beam direction and are most evident when decay is truncated to a single backscatter. From these results, an analytic form is derived and shown to be consistent with some of the waveforms and spectra observed by STEREO in the source regions of type III solar radio bursts. The agreement between the model and observations provides strong evidence for ES decay and Langmuir “snakes” parallel to the electron beam and so the ambient magnetic field.