Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia

Research Article

Mode Conversion and Reflection of Langmuir Waves in an Inhomogeneous Solar Wind

A. J. Willesa1 and Iver H. Cairnsa1

a1 School of Physics, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia


Beam-driven Langmuir waves in the solar wind are generated just above the electron plasma frequency, which fluctuates in the inhomogeneous solar wind plasma. Consequently, propagating Langmuir waves encounter regions in which the wave frequency is less than the local plasma frequency, where they can be reflected, mode converted to transverse electromagnetic waves, and trapped in density wells. The aim here is to investigate Langmuir wave reflection and mode conversion at a linear density gradient for typical solar wind parameters. It is shown that higher mode conversion efficiencies are possible than previously calculated, but that mode conversion occurs in a smaller region of parameter space. In addition, the possibility of detecting mode conversion with in situ spacecraft Langmuir wave observations is discussed.

(Received March 29 2001)

(Accepted September 24 2001)


  • plasmas;
  • radiation mechanisms: general;
  • scattering;
  • Sun: solar wind;
  • waves