Flash ionization signature in coherent cyclotron emission from brown dwarfs
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Brown dwarfs (BDs) form mineral clouds in their atmospheres, where charged particles can produce large-scale discharges in the form of lightning resulting in substantial sudden increase of local ionization. BDs are observed to emit cyclotron radio emission. We show that signatures of strong transient atmospheric ionization events (flash ionization) can be imprinted on a pre-existing radiation. Detection of such flash ionization events will open investigations into the ionization state and atmospheric dynamics. Such events can also result from explosion shock waves, material outbursts or (volcanic) eruptions. We present an analytical model that describes the modulation of a pre-existing electromagnetic radiation by a time-dependent (flash) conductivity that is characteristic for flash ionization events like lightning. Our conductivity model reproduces the conductivity function derived from observations of terrestrial gamma-ray flashes, and is applicable to astrophysical objects with strong temporal variations in the local ionization, as in planetary atmospheres and protoplanetary discs. We show that the field responds with a characteristic flash-shaped pulse to a conductivity flash of intermediate intensity. More powerful ionization events result in smaller variations of the initial radiation, or in its damping. We show that the characteristic damping of the response field for high-power initial radiation carries information about the ionization flash magnitude and duration. The duration of the pulse amplification or the damping is consistently shorter for larger conductivity variations and can be used to evaluate the intensity of the flash ionization. Our work suggests that cyclotron emission could be probe signals for electrification processes inside BD atmosphere.
Vorgul , I & Helling , C 2016 , ' Flash ionization signature in coherent cyclotron emission from brown dwarfs ' Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society , vol 458 , no. 1 , pp. 1041-1056 . DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stw234
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
© 2016 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. This work is made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the final published version of the work, which was originally published at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stw234
We gratefully acknowledge the support from the European Community under the FP7 by the ERC starting grant 257431