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Scaled experiment to investigate auroral kilometric radiation mechanisms in the presence of background electrons

McConville, S. L. and Ronald, K. and Speirs, D. C. and Gillespie, K. M. and Phelps, A. D R and Cross, A. W. and Bingham, R. and Robertson, C. W. and Whyte, C. G. and He, W. and King, M. and Bryson, R. and Vorgul, I. and Cairns, R. A. and Kellett, B. J. (2014) Scaled experiment to investigate auroral kilometric radiation mechanisms in the presence of background electrons. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 511 (1). ISSN 1742-6588

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Auroral Kilometric Radiation (AKR) emissions occur at frequencies ∼300kHz polarised in the X-mode with efficiencies ∼1-2% [1,2] in the auroral density cavity in the polar regions of the Earth's magnetosphere, a region of low density plasma ∼3200km above the Earth's surface, where electrons are accelerated down towards the Earth whilst undergoing magnetic compression. As a result of this magnetic compression the electrons acquire a horseshoe distribution function in velocity space. Previous theoretical studies have predicted that this distribution is capable of driving the cyclotron maser instability. To test this theory a scaled laboratory experiment was constructed to replicate this phenomenon in a controlled environment, [3-5] whilst 2D and 3D simulations are also being conducted to predict the experimental radiation power and mode, [6-9]. The experiment operates in the microwave frequency regime and incorporates a region of increasing magnetic field as found at the Earth's pole using magnet solenoids to encase the cylindrical interaction waveguide through which an initially rectilinear electron beam (12A) was accelerated by a 75keV pulse. Experimental results showed evidence of the formation of the horseshoe distribution function. The radiation was produced in the near cut-off TE01 mode, comparable with X-mode characteristics, at 4.42GHz. Peak microwave output power was measured ∼35kW and peak efficiency of emission ∼2%, [3]. A Penning trap was constructed and inserted into the interaction waveguide to enable generation of a background plasma which would lead to closer comparisons with the magnetospheric conditions. Initial design and measurements are presented showing the principle features of the new geometry.