Equatorial electron loss by double resonance with oblique and parallel intense chorus waves

Abstract : Puzzling satellite observations of butterfly pitch angle distributions and rapid dropouts of 30–150 keV electrons are widespread in the Earth’s radiation belts. Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain these observations, such as enhanced outward radial diffusion combined with magnetopause shadowing or scattering by intense magnetosonic waves, but their effectiveness is mainly limited to storm times. Moreover, the scattering of 30–150 keV electrons via cyclotron resonance with intense parallel chorus waves should be limited to particles with equatorial pitch angle smaller than 70∘–75∘, leaving unaffected a large portion of the population. In this paper, we investigate the possible effects of oblique whistler mode waves, noting, in particular, that Landau resonance with very oblique waves can occur up to ∼89∘. We demonstrate that such very oblique chorus waves with realistic amplitudes can very efficiently nonlinearly transport nearly equatorially mirroring electrons toward smaller pitch angles where nonlinear scattering (phase bunching) via cyclotron resonance with quasi-parallel waves can take over and quickly send them to much lower pitch angles <40∘. The proposed double resonance mechanism could therefore explain the formation of butterfly pitch angle distributions as well as contribute to some fast dropouts of 30–150 keV electrons occurring during moderate geomagnetic disturbances at L = 4–6. Since 30–150 keV electrons represent a seed population for a further acceleration to relativistic energies by intense parallel chorus waves during storms or substorms, the proposed mechanism may have important consequences on the dynamics of 100 keV to MeV electron fluxes in the radiation belts.
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D. Mourenas, A. V. Artemyev, O. V. Agapitov, F. S. Mozer, V. V. Krasnoselskikh. Equatorial electron loss by double resonance with oblique and parallel intense chorus waves. Journal of Geophysical Research Space Physics, American Geophysical Union/Wiley, 2016, 121 (5), pp.4498-4517. ⟨10.1002/2015JA022223⟩. ⟨insu-01351761⟩

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