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Neutral particle collisional relaxation of suprathermal distributions in aeronomy

TitleNeutral particle collisional relaxation of suprathermal distributions in aeronomy
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsShizgal, BD
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Date PublishedAug
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0032-0633
KeywordsBINARY GASES, Boltzmann equation, CHARGE-EXCHANGE, distribution functions, ENERGY-TRANSFER, FAST NITROGEN-ATOMS, FOKKER-PLANCK EQUATION, HYDROGEN, KINETIC-THEORY, MARS, O(P-3) ATOMS, OXYGEN-ATOMS, relaxation times, suprathermal populations

There are numerous situations in laboratory experiments and in atmospheric science that are characterized by distributions of energetic neutral species with extended high-energy tails. This paper provides a detailed analysis of the relaxation of such isotropic nonequilibrium distributions of neutral species. We consider a minor constituent, referred to as the test-particle dilutely dispersed in a second component that acts as a heat bath at equilibrium. A hard sphere cross section is assumed for the collisions of the test particles and the heat bath particles, and collisions between test particles are not included in the analysis. We study the approach to equilibrium with a finite difference method of solution of the Boltzmann equation. The solution of the Boltzmann equation is also presented as an expansion in the eigenfunctions of the Boltzmann collision operator. The main objective of the paper is the calculation of the energy-dependent relaxation times for the distribution function. It is anticipated that these relaxation times will not exhibit a strong energy dependence owing to the energy-independent hard sphere cross section. This relaxation behaviour is important in the characterization of nonthermal populations of energetic atoms in aeronomy. The results are compared with a similar analysis for Coulomb collisions described in the preceeding paper. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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