Possible interaction between thermal electrons and vibrationally excited N2 in the lower E-region

K.-I. Oyama, M. Shimoyama, J. Y. Liu, C. Z. Cheng
2011 Annales Geophysicae  
As one of the tasks to find the energy source(s) of thermal electrons, which elevate(s) electron temperature higher than neutral temperature in the lower ionosphere Eregion, energy distribution function of thermal electron was measured with a sounding rocket at the heights of 93-131 km by the applying second harmonic method. The energy distribution function showed a clear hump at the energy of ∼0.4 eV. In order to find the reason of the hump, we conducted laboratory experiment. We studied
more » ... t. We studied difference of the energy distribution functions of electrons in thermal energy range, which were measured with and without EUV radiation to plasma of N 2 /Ar and N 2 /O 2 gas mixture respectively. For N 2 /Ar gas mixture plasma, the hump is not clearly identified in the energy distribution of thermal electrons. On the other hand for N 2 /O 2 gas mixture, which contains vibrationally excited N 2 , a clear hump is found when irradiated by EUV. The laboratory experiment seems to suggest that the hump is produced as a result of interaction between vibrationally excited N 2 and thermal electrons, and this interaction is the most probable heating source for the electrons of thermal energy range in the lower E-region. It is also suggested that energy distribution of the electrons in high energy part may not be Maxwellian, and DC probe measures the electrons which are non Maxwellian, and therefore "electron temperature" is calculated higher.
doi:10.5194/angeo-29-583-2011 fatcat:ecwnbebvcvfovhqg7itamw322q