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Fast Magnetosonic Waves Observed by Van Allen Probes: Testing Local Wave Excitation Mechanism


Min, Kyungguk
Liu, Kaijun
Wang, Xueyi
Chen, Lunjin
Denton, Richard E.


Linear Vlasov theory and particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations for electromagnetic fluctuations in a homogeneous, magnetized, and collisionless plasma are used to investigate a fast magnetosonic wave event observed by the Van Allen Probes. The fluctuating magnetic field observed exhibits a series of spectral peaks at harmonics of the proton cyclotron frequency Omega p and has a dominant compressional component, which can be classified as fast magnetosonic waves. Furthermore, the simultaneously observed proton phase space density exhibits positive slopes in the perpendicular velocity space, partial derivative f(p)/partial derivative v(perpendicular to) > 0, which can be a source for these waves. Linear theory analyses and PIC simulations use plasma and field parameters measured in situ except that the modeled proton distribution is modified to have larger partial derivative f(p)/partial derivative v(perpendicular to) under the assumption that the observed distribution corresponds to a marginally stable state when the distribution has already been scattered by the excited waves. The results show that the positive slope is the source of the proton cyclotron harmonic waves at propagation quasi-perpendicular to the background magnetic field, and as a result of interactions with the excited waves the evolving proton distribution progresses approximately toward the observed distribution.