Kinetic Simulations of Electron Acceleration at Mercury

  • Jörg BüchnerEmail author
  • Patrick Kilian
  • Patricio A. Muñoz
  • Felix Spanier
  • Fabien Widmer
  • Xiaowei Zhou
  • Neeraj Jain
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 448)


In preparation of the ESA-JAXA mission Bepi Colombo we reconsidered the electron acceleration near Mercury. We first reviewed the existing observations starting from NASA’s Mariner-10 (1974–1975). Some of them later were shown to be inaccurate. Recently NASA’s Messenger mission newly observed energetic electrons including bursts of energies up to 100–200 keV. This by far exceeds the electron energies in the upstream solar wind. The acceleration mechanisms are, however, still not well understood. We derive models of electron acceleration near Mercury by passing strong interplanetary shocks, by reconnection at the magnetopause and in the Hermean magnetotail. We obtained the resulting electron energies and spectra in the near-Mercury MHD- and kinetic plasma turbulence as well as due to electric field structures by means of test particle calculations and also by fully self-consistent kinetic two- and three-dimensional PIC-code simulations whose results and, therefore, the acceleration mechanisms should be verified by the coming ESA-JAXA Bepi-Colombo mission to Mercury.



This work was possible only due to the support by the German Science Foundation “Schwerpunktprogramm Planetmag.” Jörg Büchner, Neeraj Jain, Patricio A. Muñoz also acknowledge their support by the Max-Planck-Princeton Center for Plasma Physics, Fabien Widmer and Neeraj Jain also their support by the German Science Foundation CRC 963 and Xiaowei Zhou the support by the Max-Planck-Society for a post-doc stipend.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jörg Büchner
    • 1
    Email author
  • Patrick Kilian
    • 1
    • 2
  • Patricio A. Muñoz
    • 1
  • Felix Spanier
    • 2
  • Fabien Widmer
    • 1
    • 3
  • Xiaowei Zhou
    • 4
  • Neeraj Jain
    • 1
  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for Solar System ResearchGöttingenGermany
  2. 2.Centre for Space ResearchNorth-West UniversityPotchefstroomSouth Africa
  3. 3.Institut de Recherche sur la Fusion MagnétiqueSaint-Paul-lez-DuranceFrance
  4. 4.Purple Mountain Observatory of the Chinese Academy of SciencesNanjingPeople’s Republic of China

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