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Statistical Uncertainties of Space Plasma Properties Described by Kappa Distributions

Nicolaou, G; Livadiotis, G; (2020) Statistical Uncertainties of Space Plasma Properties Described by Kappa Distributions. Entropy , 22 (5) , Article 541. 10.3390/e22050541. Green open access

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Abstract

The velocities of space plasma particles often follow kappa distribution functions, which have characteristic high energy tails. The tails of these distributions are associated with low particle flux and, therefore, it is challenging to precisely resolve them in plasma measurements. On the other hand, the accurate determination of kappa distribution functions within a broad range of energies is crucial for the understanding of physical mechanisms. Standard analyses of the plasma observations determine the plasma bulk parameters from the statistical moments of the underlined distribution. It is important, however, to also quantify the uncertainties of the derived plasma bulk parameters, which determine the confidence level of scientific conclusions. We investigate the determination of the plasma bulk parameters from observations by an ideal electrostatic analyzer. We derive simple formulas to estimate the statistical uncertainties of the calculated bulk parameters. We then use the forward modelling method to simulate plasma observations by a typical top-hat electrostatic analyzer. We analyze the simulated observations in order to derive the plasma bulk parameters and their uncertainties. Our simulations validate our simplified formulas. We further examine the statistical errors of the plasma bulk parameters for several shapes of the plasma velocity distribution function.

Type: Article
Title: Statistical Uncertainties of Space Plasma Properties Described by Kappa Distributions
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3390/e22050541
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3390/e22050541
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited
Keywords: Kappa distributions; plasmas; methods
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Space and Climate Physics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10116313
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