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Geophysical Research Letters

Excitation of poloidal standing Alfvén waves through drift resonance wave-particle interaction



[1] Drift-resonance wave-particle interaction is a fundamental collisionless plasma process studied extensively in theory. Using cross-spectral analysis of electric field, magnetic field, and ion flux data from the Van Allen Probe (Radiation Belt Storm Probes) spacecraft, we present direct evidence identifying the generation of a fundamental mode standing poloidal wave through drift-resonance interactions in the inner magnetosphere. Intense azimuthal electric field (Eφ) oscillations as large as 10mV/m are observed, associated with radial magnetic field (Br) oscillations in the dawn-noon sector near but south of the magnetic equator at L∼5. The observed wave period, Eφ/Br ratio and the 90° phase lag between Br and Eφ are all consistent with fundamental mode standing Poloidal waves. Phase shifts between particle fluxes and wave electric fields clearly demonstrate a drift resonance with ∼90 keV ring current ions. The estimated earthward gradient of ion phase space density provides a free energy source for wave generation through the drift-resonance instability. A similar drift-resonance process should occur ubiquitously in collisionless plasma systems. One specific example is the “fishbone” instability in fusion plasma devices. In addition, our observations have important implications for the long-standing mysterious origin of Giant Pulsations.

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