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  1. ABSTRACT

    The solar wind plasma is characterized by unequal effective kinetic temperatures defined in perpendicular and parallel directions with respect to the ambient magnetic field. For electrons, the excessive perpendicular temperature anisotropy leads to quasi-parallel electromagnetic electron cyclotron (or whistler) instability and aperiodic electron-mirror instability with oblique wave vectors. The present paper carries out a direct side-by-side comparison of quasi-linear (QL) theory and particle-in-cell (PIC) simulation of combined mirror and cyclotron instabilities acting upon the initially anisotropic electron temperatures, and find that the QL theory satisfactorily encapsulates the non-linear aspect of the combined instability effects. However, a discrepancy between the present study and a previous PIC simulation result is also found, which points to the need for further investigation to resolve such an issue.

  2. ABSTRACT

    This paper formulates a velocity moment-based quasi-linear theory that combines the impacts of weakly unstable proton–cyclotron- (or, equivalently, electromagnetic ion cyclotron) and proton-mirror instabilities on the solar wind plasma initially characterized by an excessive perpendicular proton temperature anisotropy. The present formalism is an alternative to the existing model in that the weakly unstable modes are characterized by analytical formalism that involves the assumption of weak growth rate and/or fluid-theoretical dispersion relation, in place of numerical root-finding method based on the transcendental plasma dispersion function. This results in an efficient numerical platform for analyzing the quasi-linear development of the said instabilities. Such a formalism may be useful in the larger context of global solar wind modelling effort where an efficient calculation of self-consistent wave–particle interaction process is called for. A direct comparison with spacecraft observations of solar wind proton data distribution shows that the present weak growth rate formalism of quasi-linear calculation produces results that are consistent with the observation.

  3. ABSTRACT Various plasma waves and instabilities are abundantly present in the solar wind plasma, as evidenced by spacecraft observations. Among these, propagating modes and instabilities driven by temperature anisotropies are known to play a significant role in the solar wind dynamics. In situ measurements reveal that the threshold conditions for these instabilities adequately explain the solar wind conditions at large heliocentric distances. This paper pays attention to the combined effects of electron firehose instability driven by excessive parallel electron temperature anisotropy (T⊥e < T∥e) at high beta conditions, and electromagnetic ion cyclotron instability driven by excessive perpendicular proton temperature anisotropy (T⊥i > T∥i). By employing quasilinear kinetic theory based upon the assumption of bi-Maxwellian velocity distribution functions for protons and electrons, the dynamical evolution of the combined instabilities and their mutual interactions mediated by the particles is explored in depth. It is found that while in some cases, the two unstable modes are excited and saturated at distinct spatial and temporal scales, in other cases, the two unstable modes are intermingled such that a straightforward interpretation is not so easy. This shows that when the dynamics of protons and electrons are mutually coupled and when multiple unstable modes are excitedmore »in the system, the dynamical consequences can be quite complex.« less