Bursty Bulk Flow Turbulence as a Source of Energetic Particles to the Outer Radiation Belt

R. E. Ergun, M. E. Usanova, D. L. Turner, J. E. Stawarz

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We report observations of a Bursty Bulk Flow (BBF) penetrating close to the outer edge of the radiation belt. The turbulent BBF braking region is characterized by ion velocity fluctuations, magnetic field (B) variations, and intense electric fields (E). In this event, energetic (>100 keV) electron and ion fluxes are appreciably enhanced. Importantly, fluctuations in energetic electrons and ions suggest local energization. Using correlation distances and other observed characteristics of turbulent E, test-particle simulations support local energization by E that favors higher-energy electrons and leads to an enhanced energetic shoulder and tail in the electron distributions. The energetic shoulder and tail could be amplified to MeV energies by adiabatic transport into the radiation belt where |B| is higher. This analysis suggests that turbulence generated by BBFs can, in part, supply energetic particles to the outer radiation belt and that turbulence can be a significant contributor to particle acceleration.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2022GL098113
Number of pages10
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number11
Early online date6 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes


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