Radiation from pulsed electron beams in space plasmas


  • K. J. Harker,

  • P. M. Banks


A theoretical study has been made of the electromagnetic radiation arising from pulsed electron beams. The study assumes an electron beam which has a well-organized spatial structure determined by a fixed trajectory in a magnetic field and on/off pulsing governed by the electron source. From this model the electromagnetic radiation is determined by adding coherently the radiation from each individual electron in the helical stream. The radiation per unit frequency interval is determined, as well as the radiation per unit solid angle, as a function of both propagation and ray angles, electron beam pulse width and separation, total number of pulses, and beam current. As expected for a coherent process, it is found that the radiated power varies at the square of the beam current. The relatively high efficiency of the beam in producing electromagnetic radiation is illustrated by consideration, among others, of a 1-keV, 100-mA beam used in recent experiments on the space shuttle. For these parameters the total radiated power per steradian is calculated at selected angles to be greater than 1% of the total beam power carried as electron kinetic energy. These results provide a useful theoretical basis for planning future electron beam experiments in space plasmas.