Subcritical Growth of Electron Phase-space Holes in Planetary Radiation Belts

Adnane Osmane, Drew L. Turner, Lynn B. Wilson, Andrew P. Dimmock, Tuija I. Pulkkinen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
200 Downloads (Pure)


The discovery of long-lived electrostatic coherent structures with large-amplitude electric fields (1 ≤ E ≤ 500 mV/m) by the Van Allen Probes has revealed alternative routes through which planetary radiation belts' acceleration can take place. Following previous reports showing that small phase-space holes, with q φ/Tc e ≃ 10-2 10-3, could result from electron interaction with large-amplitude whistlers, we demonstrate one possible mechanism through which holes can grow nonlinearly (i.e., γ ∝ √ φ) and subcritically as a result of momentum exchange between hot and cold electron populations. Our results provide an explanation for the common occurrence and fast growth of large-amplitude electron phase-space holes in the Earths radiation belts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number83
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • acceleration of particles
  • Earth
  • planetary systems
  • plasmas
  • turbulence

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