Vol 23, No 2

The Oblique Alfvén Ion Beam Instability in the Earth's Ion Foreshock

Yuhang Yao, Jinsong Zhao, Huasheng Xie, Wen Liu and Dejin Wu


How ions evolve in the Earth's ion foreshock is a basic problem in the heliosphere community, and the ion beam instability is usually proposed to be one major mechanism affecting the ion dynamics therein. This work will perform comprehensive analyses of the oblique ion beam instability in the Earth's ion foreshock. We show that in addition to two well-known parallel instabilities (i.e., the parallel fast-magnetosonic whistler instability and the parallel Alfvén ion cyclotron instability), the oblique Alfvén ion beam (OA/IB) instability can also be triggered by free energy relating to the relative drift dV between the solar wind proton and reflected proton populations. For slow dV (e.g., dV ≲ 2.2VA, where VA denotes the Alfvén speed), it only triggers the OA/IB instability. When dV ≳ 2.2VA, the growth rate in the OA/IB instability can be about 0.6 times the maximum growth rate in parallel instabilities. Moreover, this work finds the existence of two types of OA/IB instabilities. The first one appears at slow dV and in the small wavenumber region at fast dV, and this instability can be described by the cold fluid model. The second one arises in large wavenumber regions at fast dV, and this instability only appears in warm plasmas. Furthermore, through the energy transfer rate method, we propose that the OA/IB instability is driven by the competition among the Landau and cyclotron wave-particle interactions of beam protons, the cyclotron wave-particle interaction of core protons, and the Landau wave-particle interaction of electrons. Because oblique waves can experience significant damping, the importance of the OA/IB instability may be the effective heating of ions in the Earth's foreshock.


plasmas – instabilities – waves – (Sun:) solar-terrestrial relations

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