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Astron. Astrophys. 345, L27-L31 (1999)


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Letter to the Editor

A space charge model for electrophonic bursters

Martin Beech 1 and Luigi Foschini 2

1 Campion College, and Department of Physics, University of Regina, Regina, SK, S4S 0A2, Canada (Martin.Beech@uregina.ca)
2 CNR - ISAO, Via Gobetti 101, I-40129 Bologna, Italy (L.Foschini@isao.bo.cnr.it)

Received 9 March 1999 / Accepted 6 April 1999

Abstract

The sounds accompanying electrophonic burster meteors are characteristically described as being akin to short duration "pops" and staccato-like "clicks". As a phenomenon distinct from the enduring electrophonic sounds that occasionally accompany the passage and ablation of large meteoroids in the Earth's lower atmosphere, the bursters have proved stubbornly difficult to explain. A straightforward calculation demonstrates that in contradistinction to the enduring electrophonic sounds, the electrophonic bursters are not generated as a consequence of interactions between the meteoroid ablation plasma and the Earth's geomagnetic field. Here we present a novel and hitherto unrecorded model for the generation of short-duration pulses in an observer's local electrostatic field. Our model is developed according to the generation of a strong electric field across a shock wave propagating in a plasma. In this sense, the electrophonic bursters are associated with the catastrophic disruption of large meteoroids in the Earth's atmosphere. We develop an equation for the description of the electric field strength in terms of the electron temperature and the electron volume density. Also, by linking the electron line density to a meteor's absolute visual magnitude, we obtain a lower limit to the visual magnitude of electrophonic burster meteors of [FORMULA], in good agreement with the available observations.

Key words: meteors, meteoroids – plasmas – shock waves


© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1999

Online publication: April 19, 1999

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