Simulation of radiation belt electron diffusion

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This thesis presents theoretical and numerical studies of the radial diffusion of relativistic radiation belt electrons. The research has been focused particularly on the radiation belt phase space density profile, and radial diffusion due to particle drift resonance with ULF waves. Observations have shown a strong connection between magnetospheric ULF oscillations and electron flux enhancements. I investigate radial diffusion coefficients based on theoretical analysis of particle diffusion in ULF perturbation electric and magnetic fields. The analytical diffusion coefficients consist of two terms: a symmetric term and an asymmetric term. The symmetric term agrees with earlier works, and the asymmetric terms are new. Both terms show good agreement with numerical test particle simulations. The asymmetric terms have higher L dependence, which indicates they might be more important at higher L-shells or at times when the magnetospheric field is highly asymmetric. A numerical radial diffusion model has been developed which can take into account: dynamic boundary locations and values, plus effects of losses and sources. Several test cases are considered to study the effects of different diffusion coefficients, internal sources, external sources, and loss. A method of converting observational particle flux to phase space density is also presented. Identifying the source and loss processes using observational data is currently one of the key issues for understanding and modeling radiation belt dynamics. We present a new measurement technique which utilizes two GOES satellites located at different local times to calculate the radial gradient of phase space density at geostationary locations. The result shows positive gradient at geomagnetic quiet periods. To further study the high energy electron transport, especially the ULF related acceleration during storm times, I use the numerical radial diffusion model for the September 24-26, 1998 storm and compare the results with an MHD test particle simulation. The diffusion result using ULF-wave diffusion coefficients and a time-dependent outer-boundary condition can reproduce the main features of the MHD-particle results quite well. Using wave driven diffusion coefficients gives better results than using power law or Kp-dependent diffusion coefficients.

Doctor of Philosophy
Astronomy, Astrophysics, Plasma physics

Fei, Yue. "Simulation of radiation belt electron diffusion." (2007) Diss., Rice University.

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