Theory of wave activity occuring in the AMPTE artificial comet

R. Bingham, V. D. Shapiro, V. N. Tsytovich, U. de Angelis, M. Gilman, V. I. Shevchenko

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41 Citations (Scopus)


One of the main experiments of the Active Magnetospheric Particle Tracer Explorers (AMPTE) [J. Geophys. Res. 9 1, 10013 (1986)] satellite mission was the release of neutral barium atoms in the solar wind. The barium atoms ionized by photoionization extremely rapidly forming a dense, expanding, plasma cloud that interrupted the solar wind flow creating diamagnetic cavities. On the upstream side of the cavity a region of compressed plasma and enhanced magnetic field was created as the result of being produced by the slowing down and deflection of the solar wind, and magnetic field line draping. Intense electrostatic and magnetic turbulence was observed by both the IRM [J. Geophys. Res. 9 1, 10 013 (1986)] and UKS [J. Geophys. Res. 9 1, 1320 (1986)] satellites at the boundary of the diamagnetic cavity, with the most intense waves being detected near the outer boundary of the compressed region. This paper examines how the newly created expanding plasma couples to the solar wind by means of plasma–beam and current‐driven instabilities. In particular, it is shown how lower‐hybrid and lower‐hybrid drift waves are generated by cross‐field proton–barium streaming instabilities and cross‐field electron currents. The saturation mechanism for these waves is considered to be the modulational instability, this instability can also lead to filamentation and coupling to magnetosonic modes, which are also observed. As the result of modulational instability the k component increases, which allows the heating and acceleration of electrons that is consistent with the observations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1728-1738
Number of pages11
JournalPhysics of Fluids B
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 1991


  • plasma
  • magnetosphere
  • neutral barium atoms
  • magnetic field


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