Incoherent Scatter Spectra Based On Monte Carlo Simulations of Ion Velocity Distributions Under Strong Ion Frictional Heating

L. V. Goodwin, J. P. St.-Maurice, H. Akbari, R. J. Spiteri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Under strong electric field conditions often found at high latitudes, the ion velocity distribution of the weakly ionized F region plasma can differ enough from a Maxwellian shape to substantially change incoherent scatter (IS) spectra and thus the analysis of those spectra. With the goal to provide a quantitative and reliable description of the IS spectra, this study directly uses for the first time an advanced Monte Carlo calculation of the ion velocity distribution to derive IS spectra for a range of electric fields and aspect angles. For most cases the spectra associated with NO+ maintains a shape that closely resembles that of a spectrum derived from a Maxwellian distribution with the same line-of-sight ion temperature as the equivalent Monte Carlo simulated distribution. This study also fully characterizes the spectral shape as well as the ion temperature and its anisotropy for two different models of the resonant charge exchange between O+ and O. It confirms that the distortions from the Maxwellian shape can be substantial for this particular interaction. The distortions are also such that along the magnetic field direction, the extracted apparent electron temperature is always greater than the real temperature. This work also includes a determination of the stability of the plasma against magnetic field-aligned electrostatic instabilities. It is found that the NO+ distribution is always stable, whereas the O+ distribution may or may not be stable, depending on the model chosen for the resonant charge exchange cross section in collisions with the background atomic oxygen gas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-287
Number of pages19
JournalRadio Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • ISR spectra
  • Monte Carlo
  • incoherent scatter radar
  • ion frictional heating
  • ion velocity distributions
  • plasma stability


Dive into the research topics of 'Incoherent Scatter Spectra Based On Monte Carlo Simulations of Ion Velocity Distributions Under Strong Ion Frictional Heating'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this