Articles | Volume 9, issue 2
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 9, 111–119, 2002
https://doi.org/10.5194/npg-9-111-2002

Special issue: Theory and simulation of Solar System Plasmas, No. 3

Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 9, 111–119, 2002
https://doi.org/10.5194/npg-9-111-2002

  30 Apr 2002

30 Apr 2002

BGK electron solitary waves: 1D and 3D

L.-J. Chen1 and G. K. Parks2 L.-J. Chen and G. K. Parks
  • 1Physics Department, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 98195, USA
  • 2Space Science Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, CA, 94720, USA

Abstract. This paper presents new results for 1D BGK electron solitary wave (phase-space electron hole) solutions and, based on the new results, extends the solutions to include the 3D electrical interaction (E ~ 1/r 2) of charged particles. Our approach for extending to 3D is to solve the nonlinear 3D Poisson and 1D Vlasov equations based on a key feature of 1D electron hole (EH) solutions; the positive core of an EH is screened by electrons trapped inside the potential energy trough. This feature has not been considered in previous studies. We illustrate this key feature using an analytical model and argue that the feature is independent of any specific model. We then construct azimuthally symmetric EH solutions under conditions where electrons are highly field-aligned and ions form a uniform background along the magnetic field. Our results indicate that, for a single humped electric potential, the parallel cut of the perpendicular component of the electric field (E) is unipolar and that of the parallel component (E||) bipolar, reproducing the multi-dimensional features of the solitary waves observed by the FAST satellite. Our analytical solutions presented in this article capture the 3D electric interaction and the observed features of (E|| ) and E. The solutions predict a dependence of the parallel width-amplitude relation on the perpendicular size of EHs. This dependence can be used in conjunction with experimental data to yield an estimate of the typical perpendicular size of observed EHs; this provides important information on the perpendicular span of the source region as well as on how much electrostatic energy is transported by the solitary waves.