Early time evolution of a chemically produced electron depletion
Scales, Wayne A.
Bernhardt, P. A.
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The early time evolution of an ionospheric electron depletion produced by a radially expanding electron attachment chemical release is studied with a two-dimensional simulation model. The model includes electron attachment chemistry, incorporates fluid electrons, particle ions and neutrals, and considers the evolution in a plane perpendicular to the geomagnetic field for a low beta plasma. Timescales considered are of the order of or less than the cyclotron period of the negative ions that result as a by-product of the electron attachment reaction. This corresponds to time periods of tenths of seconds during recent experiments. Simulation results show that a highly sheared azimuthal electron flow velocity develops in the radially expanding depletion boundary. This sheared electron flow velocity and the steep density gradients in the boundary give rise to small-scale irregularities in the form of electron density cavities and spikes. The nonlinear evolution of these irregularities results in trapping and ultimately turbulent heating of the negative ions.