Study of EMIC wave excitation using direct ion measurements

Kyungguk Min, Kaijun Liu, John W. Bonnell, Aaron W. Breneman, Richard E. Denton, Herbert O. Funsten, Jöerg Micha Jahn, Craig A. Kletzing, William S. Kurth, Brian A. Larsen, Geoffrey D. Reeves, Harlan E. Spence, John R. Wygant

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With data from Van Allen Probes, we investigate electromagnetic ion cyclotron (EMIC) wave excitation using simultaneously observed ion distributions. Strong He band waves occurred while the spacecraft was moving through an enhanced density region. We extract from helium, oxygen, proton, and electron mass spectrometer measurement the velocity distributions of warm heavy ions as well as anisotropic energetic protons that drive wave growth through the ion cyclotron instability. Fitting the measured ion fluxes to multiple sinm-type distribution functions, we find that the observed ions make up about 15% of the total ions, but about 85% of them are still missing. By making legitimate estimates of the unseen cold (below ∼2 eV) ion composition from cutoff frequencies suggested by the observed wave spectrum, a series of linear instability analyses and hybrid simulations are carried out. The simulated waves generally vary as predicted by linear theory. They are more sensitive to the cold O+ concentration than the cold He+ concentration. Increasing the cold O+ concentration weakens the He band waves but enhances the O band waves. Finally, the exact cold ion composition is suggested to be in a range when the simulated wave spectrum best matches the observed one.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2702-2719
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015


  • EMIC wave excitation
  • observation, linear theory and hybrid simulation

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    Min, K., Liu, K., Bonnell, J. W., Breneman, A. W., Denton, R. E., Funsten, H. O., Jahn, J. M., Kletzing, C. A., Kurth, W. S., Larsen, B. A., Reeves, G. D., Spence, H. E., & Wygant, J. R. (2015). Study of EMIC wave excitation using direct ion measurements. Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, 120(4), 2702-2719.