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  1. Abstract

    The quasi-steady states of collisionless plasmas in space (e.g., in the solar wind and planetary environments) are governed by the interactions of charged particles with wave fluctuations. These interactions are responsible not only for the dissipation of plasma waves but also for their excitation. The present analysis focuses on two instabilities, mirror and electromagnetic ion cyclotron instabilities, associated with the same proton temperature anisotropyT>T(where ⊥, ∥ are directions defined with respect to the local magnetic field vector). Theories relying on standard Maxwellian models fail to link these two instabilities (i.e., predicted thresholds) to the proton quasi-stable anisotropies measured in situ in a completely satisfactory manner. Here we revisit these instabilities by modeling protons with the generalized bi-Kappa (bi-κpower-law) distribution, and by a comparative analysis of a 2D hybrid simulation with the velocity-moment-based quasi-linear (QL) theory. It is shown that the two methods feature qualitative and, even to some extent, quantitative agreement. The reduced QL analysis based upon the assumption of a time-dependent bi-Kappa model thus becomes a valuable theoretical approach that can be incorporated into the present studies of solar wind dynamics.

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  2. Abstract

    The expanding-box model of the solar wind has been adopted in the literature within the context of magnetohydrodynamics, hybrid, and full particle-in-cell simulations to investigate the dynamic evolution of the solar wind. The present paper extends such a method to the framework of self-consistent quasilinear kinetic theory. It is shown that the expanding-box quasilinear methodology is largely equivalent to the inhomogeneous steady-state quasilinear model discussed earlier in the literature, but a distinction regarding the description of wave dynamics between the two approaches is also found. The expanding-box quasilinear formalism is further extended to include the effects of a spiraling solar-wind magnetic field as well as collisional age effects. The present finding shows that the expanding-box quasilinear approach and the steady-state global-kinetic models may be employed interchangeably in order to address other more complex problems associated with the solar-wind dynamics.

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  3. Abstract

    The charged particles in the solar wind are often observed to possess a nonthermal tail in the velocity distribution function, a feature that can be fitted with the Kappa model. The anisotropic, or bi-Kappa, model of protons, electrons, and other charged particles is thus adopted in the literature for interpreting the data as well as in the context of the analysis of wave–particle interactions. The present paper develops an approximate but efficient theory of the mirror and cyclotron instabilities excited by the bi-Kappa protons in the solar wind. A velocity moment-based quasi-linear theory of these instabilities is also formulated in order to investigate the saturation behavior. Applications of the formalism are made for instabilities close to the marginally unstable state, which is typical of the solar wind near 1 au.

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  4. The general quasilinear Fokker–Planck kinetic equation for the gyrophase-averaged plasma particle distribution functions in magnetized plasmas is derived, making no restrictions on the energy of the particles and on the frequency of the electromagnetic fluctuations and avoiding the often made Coulomb approximation of the electromagnetic interactions. The inclusion of discrete particle effects breaks the dichotomy of nonlinear kinetic plasma theory divided into the test particle and the test fluctuation approximation because it provides expression of both the non-collective and collective electromagnetic fluctuation spectra in terms of the plasma particle distribution functions. Within the validity of the quasilinear approach, the resulting full quasilinear transport equation can be regarded as a determining nonlinear equation for the time evolution of the plasma particle distribution functions.

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    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.

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    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.

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  7. Abstract The anomalous diffusion of resonant protons in parallel and perpendicular velocity space by kinetic Alfvén waves is discussed. The velocity diffusion coefficient is calculated by employing an autocorrelation function for proton trajectories. It is found that for protons resonant with the waves, the perpendicular diffusion coefficient decays away for a sufficiently long time, but parallel diffusion monotonically increases in time until it saturates at a certain level. This result indicates that a portion of resonant protons can undergo anomalous diffusion along the background magnetic field even if the intensity of the kinetic Alfvén wave is sufficiently low. The present findings imply that under suitable conditions, astrophysical charged-particle acceleration can take place in the parallel direction. 
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  8. null (Ed.)
    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 excited in the system, the dynamical consequences can be quite complex. 
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