Interaction of electromagnetic waves and suprathermal electrons in the near-critical electric field limit
Journal article, 2012
The velocity-space anisotropy of suprathermal electron distributions is a source of free energy that may destabilize plasma waves through a resonant interaction between the waves and the energetic electrons. In this work we use a suprathermal electron distribution appropriate for the case when the accelerating electric field is near-critical and we investigate the frequencies, wave numbers and propagation angles of the most unstable waves using a general dispersion relation. It is shown that if the electric field is sub-critical, the anisotropy is not enough to drive electromagnetic waves unstable, as the Landau damping of the waves overwhelms the drive through the anomalous Doppler resonance. In the case when the electric field is supercritical, two types of electromagnetic waves will be destabilized, the electron-whistler and the extraordinary electron wave. The number of electrons for destabilization of the latter is several orders of magnitude lower than for the electron-whistler wave. Consequently, the threshold for destabilization of the extraordinary electron wave is much lower.