Parker Solar Probe Evidence for Scattering of Electrons in the Young Solar Wind by Narrowband Whistler-mode Waves

C. Cattell, A. Breneman, J. Dombeck, B. Short, J. Wygant, J. Halekas, Tony Case, J. C. Kasper, D. Larson, Mike Stevens, P. Whittesley, S. D. Bale, T. Dudok De Wit, K. Goodrich, R. Macdowall, M. Moncuquet, D. Malaspina, M. Pulupa

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Observations of plasma waves by the Fields Suite and of electrons by the Solar Wind Electrons Alphas and Protons Investigation on the Parker Solar Probe provide strong evidence for pitch angle scattering of strahl-energy electrons by narrowband whistler-mode waves at radial distances less than ∼0.3 au. We present two example intervals of a few hours each that include eight waveform captures with whistler-mode waves and 26 representative electron distributions that are examined in detail. Two were narrow, seventeen were clearly broadened, and eight were very broad. The two with narrow strahl occurred when there were either no whistlers or very intermittent low amplitude waves. Six of the eight broadest distributions were associated with intense, long duration waves. Approximately half of the observed electron distributions have features consistent with an energy-dependent scattering mechanism, as would be expected from interactions with narrowband waves. A comparison of the wave power in the whistler-mode frequency band to pitch angle width and a measure of anisotropy provides additional evidence for electron scattering by whistler-mode waves. We estimate the range of resonances based on the wave properties and energies over which broadening is observed. These observations provide strong evidence that the narrowband whistler-mode waves scatter strahl-energy electrons to produce the halo and to reduce the electron heat flux.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL29
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021

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© 2021. The Author(s). Published by the American Astronomical Society..


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