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Title: Acceleration of Auroral Electrons
Author: Cameron, Taylor
Advisor: Knudsen, David
Keywords: Fluid and Plasma
Issue Date: 1-May-2015
Abstract: Particle acceleration is a process that is important all across the universe. The particles that cause the aurora have been accelerated by many different mechanisms. How these mechanisms work is still an active topic of research. We examine the acceleration of auroral electrons from two fronts. First, we focus on the acceleration of auroral arc electrons to keV energies by a large potential structure above the Earth. This is done by evaluating the current-voltage relationship using spacecraft data over multiple arcs. It is found that this relationship contains an unexpected amount of scatter, meaning that either variability in the source population is higher than thought, or some of the assumptions that go into the current-voltage relation are being broken. We also examine the more modest acceleration of auroral electrons to suprathermal (100's of eV) energies. This is done by surveying spacecraft data for electron energy dispersion, which is thought to be an indication of Alfv\'{e}n wave acceleration. We derive source distances for these events. We also give evidence for a previously unreported kind of electron dispersion, which we argue is caused by source motion perpendicular to the geomagnetic field. This is hypothesized to be connected to auroral arc rays.
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