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Generation of auroral kilometric radiation by electron horseshoe distributions

Bingham, R. and Cairns, R. A. (2000) Generation of auroral kilometric radiation by electron horseshoe distributions. Physics of Plasmas, 7 (7). pp. 3089-3092. ISSN 1070-664X

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High time resolution of rocket and satellite electron distribution functions within the source region of auroral kilometric radiation display a characteristic crescent shaped or horseshoe distribution. Such distribution functions are created by a field aligned electron beam moving into an increasing magnetic field, conservation of the first adiabatic invariant causes an increase of their pitch angle. This produces a broad region on the distribution function where ∂fe/∂v⊥>0, and is a possible source of free energy leading to radio wave emission by the cyclotron maser instability, which is more efficient than the conventional loss-cone maser instability. The stability of these electron horseshoe distribution functions is examined for right-hand extraordinary mode (R–X mode) radiation close to the electron cyclotron frequency propagating perpendicular to the magnetic field.