Quasi-thermal noise in space plasma: “kappa” distributions

Le Chat, G.; Issautier, K.; Meyer-Vernet, N.; Zouganelis, I.; Maksimovic, M.; Moncuquet, M.
October 2009
Physics of Plasmas;Oct2009, Vol. 16 Issue 10, p102903
Academic Journal
The transport of energy in collisionless plasmas, especially in space plasmas, is far from being understood. Measuring the temperature of the electrons and their nonthermal properties can give important clues to understand the transport properties. Quasi-thermal noise (QTN) spectroscopy is a reliable tool for measuring accurately the electron density and temperature since it is less sensitive to the spacecraft perturbations than particle detectors. This work models the plasma QTN using a generalized Lorentzian (“kappa”) distribution function for the electrons. This noise is produced by the quasi-thermal fluctuations of the electrons and by the Doppler-shifted thermal fluctuations of the ions. A sum of two Maxwellian functions has mainly been used for modeling the QTN of the electrons, but the observations have shown that the electrons are better fitted by a kappa distribution function. Pioneer work on QTN calculation only considered integer values of κ. This paper extends these calculations to real values of κ and gives the analytic expressions and numerical calculations of the QTN with a kappa distribution function. This paper shows some generic properties and gives some practical consequences for plasma wave measurements in space.


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