Can the downward current region of the aurora be simulated in the laboratory?
Phase space methods
Multiple double layers
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A laboratory plasma device is proposed to simulate the downward current region of the aurora. In this device, a discharge in neon is used as a plasma source to represent the hot plasma of the magnetosphere, and a sodium Q-machine source represents the ionospheric plasma. An electrostatic Vlasov model is used to simulate both the downward current region itself and the proposed laboratory analogue. All important phenomena that appear in the simulation of space are found in the laboratory simulation too: a double layer carries most of the potential difference; double layers are in constant motion in the direction of decreasing magnetic field; electron phase space holes appear on the high potential side of double layers and these holes carry a part of the potential difference during double layer disruptions. The ability to simulate auroral physics in the laboratory is better for the downward than the upward current region, because of the lower levels of ion acoustic-like waves in the laboratory model of the former region. Better laboratory-space agreement is found when the discharge and Q-machine ions are of similar masses. If the masses differ significantly, as they do when using helium together with sodium ions, waves on the ion time scale dominate the plasma on the low potential side of the double layer, and there is a tendency toward multiple double layers appearing simultaneously at different locations. The experiment is suitable for the study of heating processes that occur in the downward current region and to address the behaviour of the current-voltage relationship for low voltages. © 2016 IOP Publishing Ltd.
CitationGunell, H.; Andersson, L.; De Keyser, J.; Mann, I. (2016). Can the downward current region of the aurora be simulated in the laboratory?. , Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion, Vol. 58, Issue 5, 54003, Article, DOI: 10.1088/0741-3335/58/5/054003.