Self-consistent particle-in-cell simulations of fundamental and harmonic plasma radio emission mechanisms

Jonathan Thurgood, David Tsiklauri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Aims - The simulation of three-wave interaction based plasma emission, thought to be the underlying mechanism for Type III solar radio bursts, is a challenging task requiring fully-kinetic, multi-dimensional models. This paper aims to resolve a contradiction in past attempts, whereby some studies indicate that no such processes occur. Methods - We self-consistently simulate three-wave based plasma emission through all stages by using 2D, fully kinetic, electromagnetic particle-in-cell simulations of relaxing electron beams using the EPOCH2D code. Results - Here we present the results of two simulations; Run 1 (nb/n0 = 0.0057, vb/ Δvb = vb/Ve = 16) and Run 2 (nb/n0 = 0.05, vb/ Δvb = vb/Ve = 8), which we find to permit and prohibit plasma emission respectively. We show that the possibility of plasma emission is contingent upon the frequency of the initial electrostatic waves generated by the bump-in-tail instability, and that these waves may be prohibited from participating in the necessary three-wave interactions due to frequency conservation requirements. In resolving this apparent contradiction through a comprehensive analysis, in this paper we present the first self-consistent demonstration of fundamental and harmonic plasma emission from a single-beam system via fully kinetic numerical simulation. We caution against simulating astrophysical radio bursts using unrealistically dense beams (a common approach which reduces run time), as the resulting non-Langmuir characteristics of the initial wave modes significantly suppresses emission. Comparison of our results also indicates that, contrary to the suggestions of previous authors, an alternative plasma emission mechanism based on two counter-propagating beams is unnecessary in an astrophysical context. Finally, we also consider the action of the Weibel instability which generates an electromagnetic beam mode. As this provides a stronger contribution to electromagnetic energy than the emission, we stress that evidence of plasma emission in simulations must disentangle the two contributions and not simply interpret changes in total electromagnetic energy as evidence of plasma emission.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)A83
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Early online date24 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'Self-consistent particle-in-cell simulations of fundamental and harmonic plasma radio emission mechanisms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this