On the Determination of Kappa Distribution Functions from Space Plasma Observations

Georgios Nicolaou, George Livadiotis, Robert T. Wicks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


The velocities of space plasma particles, often follow kappa distribution functions. The kappa index, which labels and governs these distributions, is an important parameter in understanding the plasma dynamics. Space science missions often carry plasma instruments on board which observe the plasma particles and construct their velocity distribution functions. A proper analysis of the velocity distribution functions derives the plasma bulk parameters, such as the plasma density, speed, temperature, and kappa index. Commonly, the plasma bulk density, velocity, and temperature are determined from the velocity moments of the observed distribution function. Interestingly, recent studies demonstrated the calculation of the kappa index from the speed (kinetic energy) moments of the distribution function. Such a novel calculation could be very useful in future analyses and applications. This study examines the accuracy of the specific method using synthetic plasma proton observations by a typical electrostatic analyzer. We analyze the modeled observations in order to derive the plasma bulk parameters, which we compare with the parameters we used to model the observations in the first place. Through this comparison, we quantify the systematic and statistical errors in the derived moments, and we discuss their possible sources.

Original languageEnglish
Article number212
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'On the Determination of Kappa Distribution Functions from Space Plasma Observations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this