Particle-in-cell simulations of electron acceleration by a simple capacitative antenna in collisionless plasma

M. E. Dieckmann, G. Rowlands, B. Eliasson, P. K. Shukla

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3 Citations (Scopus)


We examine the electron acceleration by a localized electrostatic potential oscillating at high frequencies by means of particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations, in which we apply oscillating electric fields to two neighboring simulation cells. We derive an analytic model for the direct electron heating by the externally driven antenna electric field, and we confirm that it approximates well the electron heating obtained in the simulations. In the simulations, transient waves accelerate electrons in a sheath surrounding the antenna. This increases the Larmor radii of the electrons close to the antenna, and more electrons can reach the antenna location to interact with the externally driven fields. The resulting hot electron sheath is dense enough to support strong waves that produce high-energy sounder-accelerated electrons (SAEs) by their nonlinear interaction with the ambient electrons. By increasing the emission amplitudes in our simulations to values that are representative for the ones of the sounder on board the OEDIPUS C (OC) satellites, we obtain electron acceleration into the energy range which is comparable to the 20 keV energies of the SAE observed by the OC mission. The emission also triggers stable electrostatic waves oscillating at frequencies close to the first harmonic of the electron cyclotron frequency. We find this to be an encouraging first step of examining SAE generation with kinetic numerical simulation codes.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA12304
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue numberA12
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2004


  • electron acceleration
  • capacitive antenna
  • collisionless plasma


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