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Microwave radiation by a relativistic electron beam propagation through low-pressure air

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Intense relativistic electron beams fired into air at varying pressures display a wide range of microwave signatures. These experiments held beam current, energy, and pulse length constant while varying gas pressure. Our observing window is 10 to 40 GHz. At low pressures (<10 mTorr) exponential spectra result, consistent with beam reflexing or virtual cathode oscillations. Above 20 mTorr the spectrum flattens and suggests collective emission at the beam-generated plasma frequencies. Power falls linearly with pressure above 20 mTorr, until electron-Neutral collisions damp the emission at a few Torr. However, weak 10 GHz emission appears at full atmospheric pressure.

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