Particle-in-Cell Simulations of Sunward and Anti-sunward Whistler Waves in the Solar Wind

Ilya V. Kuzichev, Ivan Y. Vasko, Anton V. Artemyev, Stuart D. Bale, Forrest S. Mozer

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We present particle-in-cell simulations of a combined whistler heat flux and temperature anisotropy instability that is potentially operating in the solar wind. The simulations are performed in a uniform plasma and initialized with core and halo electron populations typical of the solar wind beyond about 0.3 au. We demonstrate that the instability produces whistler-mode waves propagating both along (anti-sunward) and opposite (sunward) to the electron heat flux. The saturated amplitudes of both sunward and anti-sunward whistler waves are strongly correlated with their initial linear growth rates, B w / B 0 ∼ ( γ / ω ce ) ν , where for typical electron betas we have 0.6 ≲ ν ≲ 0.9. We show that because of the relatively large spectral width of the whistler waves, the instability saturates through the formation of quasi-linear plateaus around the resonant velocities. The revealed correlations of whistler wave amplitudes and spectral widths with electron beta and temperature anisotropy are consistent with solar wind observations. We show that anti-sunward whistler waves result in an electron heat flux decrease, while sunward whistler waves actually lead to an electron heat flux increase. The net effect is the electron heat flux suppression, whose efficiency is larger for larger electron betas and temperature anisotropies. The electron heat flux suppression can be up to 10%-60% provided that the saturated whistler wave amplitudes exceed about 1% of the background magnetic field. The experimental applications of the presented results are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number65
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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