Intense Energetic Electron Precipitation Caused by the Self‐Limiting of Space Radiation

Leonid Olifer*, Ian R. Mann, L. G. Ozeke, S. D. Walton, A. W. Breneman, K. Murphy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding intense electron precipitation is crucial for characterizing radiation belt loss and assessing related impacts on the atmosphere. We investigate the evolution of electron flux during an ensemble of 70 geomagnetic storms, focusing on equatorial and low‐Earth orbit observations of trapped and precipitating ∼30–100 keV energy electrons. We reveal that the most intense electron precipitation is associated with equatorial flux capping through self‐limiting processes, for example, as described theoretically by Kennel and Petschek (1966, Our results indicate that the most intense electron precipitation is caused by electron injections associated with self‐limiting processes. Dawn side injections are observed to have fluxes that exceed the Kennel‐Petschek limit, consistent with the excitation of strong chorus waves and resulting in intense precipitation and return of the trapped flux to the Kennel‐Petschek limit. Our results clearly demonstrate the important role of self‐limiting processes in affecting the dynamics of newly injected electrons and driving intense electron precipitation.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2023GL105392
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number21
Early online date9 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes

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