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A Pervasive Electric Field in the Heliosphere

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1 Author(s)
Henry D. May ; Environ. Protection Agency, Dallas, TX

It is a widely held belief that a large-scale electric field of any significant magnitude cannot be present in the heliosphere because of electric currents through the highly conductive plasma, present throughout the heliosphere, which would immediately neutralize any nascent electric fields. This paper questions that longstanding belief and describes a mechanism to account for such a field. Some of the galactic cosmic ray (GCR) ions lose almost all of their kinetic energy from solar modulation and, due to their short radii of gyration, are effectively deposited continuously throughout the heliosphere inside the solar wind termination shock. It is pointed out here that the deposition of these ions occurs at a greater rate than that for GCR electrons, and that a large-scale static electric field is sustained by the ions because of the time delay in the arrival of neutralizing electron currents.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science  (Volume:36 ,  Issue: 5 )