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Modeling of a new electron-streamer acceleration mechanism

Abstract : Lightning stepped leaders and laboratory spark discharges in air are known to produce X-rays [e.g., Dwyer et al., Geophys. Res. lett., 32, L20809, 2005; Kochkin et al., J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys., 45, 425202, 2012]. However, the processes behind the production of these X-rays are still not very well understood. During discharges, encounters between streamers of different polarities are very common. For example, during the formation of a new leader step, the negative streamer zone around the tip of a negative leader and the positive streamers initiated from the posiive part of a bidirectional space leader strongly interact. In laboratory experiments, when streamers are approaching a sharp electrode, streamers with the opposite polarity are initiated from the electrode and collide with the former streamers. Recently, the encounter between negative and positive streamers has been proposed as a plausible mechanism for the production of X-rays by spark discharges [Cooray et la., JASTP, 71, 1890, 2009; Kochkin et al., J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys., 45, 425202, 2012], but modeling results have shown later that the increase of the electric field involved in this process, which is above the conventional breakdown threshold field, is accompanied by a strong increase of the electron density. The resulting increase in the conductivity, in turn, causes this electric field to collapse over a few tens of picoseconds, preventing the electrons reaching high energies and producing significant X-ray emissions [e.g., Ihaddadene and Celestin, Geophys. Res. Lett., 45, 5644, 2015]. In this work, we will present simulation results of a new electron acceleration mechanism for producing runaway electron energies above hundred keV. The mechanism couples multiple single streamers and streamer head-on collisions, similar to a laboratory discharge, and is suitable for explaining the high-energy X-rays produced by discharges in air and by lightning stepped leaders.
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Submitted on : Sunday, February 13, 2022 - 10:14:27 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 10, 2022 - 3:24:58 PM

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K. M. A. Ihaddadene, J. R. Dwyer, N. Liu, Sebastien Celestin. Modeling of a new electron-streamer acceleration mechanism. American Geophysical Union, 2017, San Francisco, United States. ⟨insu-03570121⟩

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