Ionospheric plasma bubble generated by Arecibo heater

M. C. Lee, R. J. Riddolls, W. J. Burke, M. P. Sulzer, E. M.C. Klien, M. J. Rowlands, S. P. Kuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During recent experiments ionospheric plasma bubbles were excited by the upgraded HF heater at Arecibo. These plasma bubbles were observed by radar in the midnight sector with the entire flux tube in darkness. A simple model is outlined to explain the dynamics of density depletions generated during O-mode wave heating of the F layer. We suggest that thermal expansion of plasma away from the heated volume leads to enhanced recombination along the flux tube. In the absence of photoionization sources, density depletions develop along the excited flux tube. The discontinuity of gravity-driven currents at the walls of the depleted region requires development of polarization electric fields. Eastward polarization electric fields of ∼2.5 mV/m within the flux tube caused an observed plasma bubble to drift vertically at a speed of 70 m/s.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)579-582
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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