Narrowband Large Amplitude Whistler-mode Waves in the Solar Wind and Their Association with Electrons: STEREO Waveform Capture Observations

C. A. Cattell, B. Short, A. W. Breneman, P. Grul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Large amplitude (up to 70 mV m-1) whistler-mode waves at frequencies of ∼0.2-0.4 f ce (electron cyclotron frequency) are frequently observed in the solar wind. The waves are obliquely propagating at angles close to the resonance cone, resulting in significant electric fields parallel to the background magnetic field, enabling strong interactions with solar wind electrons. Very narrowband (sinusoidal waveforms) and less coherent waves (more irregular waveforms) occur, but do not have a bimodal distribution. Frequencies and/or propagation angles are distinctly different from whistler-mode waves usually observed in the solar wind, and amplitudes are 1-3 orders of magnitude larger. Waves occur most often in association with stream interaction regions, and are often "close-packed."Wave occurrence as a function of normalized electron heat flux and beta is consistent with the whistler heat flux fan instability for both the narrowband coherent and the incoherent waves. The incoherent waves are associated with zero or near zero heat flux. This suggests that the less coherent waves may be more effective in regulating the electron heat flux, or that the scattering and energization of solar wind electrons by the narrowband waves results in broadening of the waves. The oblique propagation and large amplitudes of both the narrowband and less coherent whistlers enable resonant interactions with electrons over a broad energy range, and, unlike parallel whistlers, do not require that the electrons and waves counter-propagate. Therefore, they are much more effective in modifying solar wind electron distributions than parallel propagating waves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number126
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume897
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 10 2020

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