Space Science Reviews

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 215-298

First online:

Kinetic cyclotron and synchrotron maser instabilities: Radio emission processes by direct amplification of radiation

  • C. S. WuAffiliated withInstitute for Physical Science and Technology, University of Maryland

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This article reviews the theory of the kinetic (cyclotron an synchroton) maser instabilities. The subject has been extensively developed in recent years by many authors, who have been incited by the research of the auroral kilometric radiation and other applications. The maser mechanism is appealing because it is simple and efficient, and can lead to direct amplification of radiation. Two types of electron distribution functions have been investigated so far. These are the loss-cone and hollow-beam distributions which may exist pervasively in many regions within and beyond the solar system. It is likely that the maser instabilities can have many potentially important applications to numerous radio emission processes observed in astrophysical research.