Electron trapping in shear Alfvén waves that power the aurora

Clare E. J. Watt, Robert Rankin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


Results from 1D Vlasov drift-kinetic plasma simulations reveal how and where auroral electrons are accelerated along Earth?s geomagnetic field. In the warm plasma sheet, electrons become trapped in shear Alfven waves, preventing immediate wave damping. As waves move to regions with larger vTe=vA, their parallel electric field decreases, and the trapped electrons escape their influence. The resulting electron distribution functions compare favorably with in situ observations, demonstrating for the first time a self-consistent link between Alfven waves and electrons that form aurora.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


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