Evolution of electron phase space holes in inhomogeneous magnetic fields

I. V. Kuzichev, I. Y. Vasko, O. V. Agapitov, F. S. Mozer, A. V. Artemyev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Electron phase space holes (EHs) are electrostatic solitary waves that are widely observed in the space plasma often permeated by inhomogeneous magnetic fields. Understanding of the EH evolution in inhomogeneous magnetic fields is critical for accurate interpretations of spacecraft data. To study this evolution, we use 1.5-D gyrokinetic electrostatic Vlasov code (magnetized electrons and immobile ions) with periodic boundary conditions. We find that EHs propagating into stronger (weaker) magnetic field are decelerated (accelerated) with deceleration (acceleration) rate dependent on the magnetic field gradient. Remarkably, decelerating EHs are reflected at the magnetic field dependent only on EH parameters (independent of the magnetic field gradient). A magnetic field inhomogeneity results in development of a net potential drop along EHs. Our simulations suggest that slow EHs recently observed in the plasma sheet boundary layer can appear due to braking of initially fast EHs by magnetic field gradients and that a large number of even fast EHs can contribute to macroscopic parallel potential drops.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2105-2112
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 16 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


  • Vlasov simulation
  • electron holes
  • slow electron holes
  • solitary waves


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