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Wave-particle energy exchange directly observed in a kinetic Alfvén-branch wave.

  • Author(s): Gershman, Daniel J
  • F-Viñas, Adolfo
  • Dorelli, John C
  • Boardsen, Scott A
  • Avanov, Levon A
  • Bellan, Paul M
  • Schwartz, Steven J
  • Lavraud, Benoit
  • Coffey, Victoria N
  • Chandler, Michael O
  • Saito, Yoshifumi
  • Paterson, William R
  • Fuselier, Stephen A
  • Ergun, Robert E
  • Strangeway, Robert J
  • Russell, Christopher T
  • Giles, Barbara L
  • Pollock, Craig J
  • Torbert, Roy B
  • Burch, James L
  • et al.
Abstract

Alfvén waves are fundamental plasma wave modes that permeate the universe. At small kinetic scales, they provide a critical mechanism for the transfer of energy between electromagnetic fields and charged particles. These waves are important not only in planetary magnetospheres, heliospheres and astrophysical systems but also in laboratory plasma experiments and fusion reactors. Through measurement of charged particles and electromagnetic fields with NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission, we utilize Earth's magnetosphere as a plasma physics laboratory. Here we confirm the conservative energy exchange between the electromagnetic field fluctuations and the charged particles that comprise an undamped kinetic Alfvén wave. Electrons confined between adjacent wave peaks may have contributed to saturation of damping effects via nonlinear particle trapping. The investigation of these detailed wave dynamics has been unexplored territory in experimental plasma physics and is only recently enabled by high-resolution MMS observations.

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