Dynamical behavior of U-shaped double layers: cavity formation and filamentary structures
- Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and CSPAR, University of Alabama, Huntsville, Al 35899, USA
Abstract. Observations from the Polar and FAST satellites have revealed a host of intriguing features of the auroral accelerations processes in the upward current region (UCR). These features include: (i) large-amplitude parallel ( ) and perpendicular () fluctuating as well as quasi-static electric fields in density cavities, (ii) fairly large-amplitude unipolar parallel electric fields like in a strong double layer (DL), (iii) variety of wave modes, (iv) counter-streaming of upward going ion beams and downward accelerated electrons, (v) horizontally corrugated bottom region of the potential structures (PS), in which electron and ion accelerations occur, (vi) filamentary ion beams in the corrugated PS, and (vii) both upward and downward moving narrow regions of parallel electric fields, inferred from the frequency drifts of the auroral kilometric radiations. Numerical simulations of U-shaped potential structures reveal that such observed features of the UCR are integral parts of dynamically evolving auroral U-shaped potential structures. Using a 2.5-D particle-in-cell (PIC) code we simulate a U-shaped broad potentialstructure (USBPS). The dynamical behavior revealed by the simulation includes: (i) recurring redistribution of the parallel potential drop (PPD) in the PS, (ii) its up and downward motion, (iii) formation of filaments in the potential and density structures, and (iv) creation of filamentary as well as broad extended density cavities. The formation of the filamentary structures is initiated by an ion-beam driven instability of an oblique ion mode trapped inside a broad cavity, when it becomes sufficiently thin in height. The filaments of the PS create filamentary electron beams, which generate waves at frequencies above the lower hybrid frequency, affecting plasma heating. This results in plasma evacuation and formation of a cavity extended in height. The waves associated with filamentary electron beams also evolve into electron holes. The transverse and parallel scale lengths of the regions with large and as well as their magnitudes are compared with satellite data.