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Explaining Correlations between Whistler Waves and Auroral Kilometric Radiation


Intense radio emissions are often correlated with whistler waves when observed on the ground, despite being produced by different processes in space. We will use numerical simulations to study the linear conversion at density gradients of radio emissions into several types of plasma waves, and then apply this fundamental theory to multiple regions of space.


Professor Iver Cairns.

Research location

School of Physics

Program type



Radio antennas in the arctic regions and on Antarctica observe multiple types of radio emission and waves associated with solar activity and related space weather events in Earth’s magnetosphere. Auroral kilometric radiation (AKR), z-mode waves, and whistler waves are generated by energetic electrons in Earth’s auroral regions and observed on the ground and in space. Interestingly z-mode and whistler waves often occur in association with the AKR and have very similar timings and fine structures. The project will use an existing simulation code to study the linear mode conversion of z-mode waves into whistler waves and then radio emission in order to explain how the emissions reach the ground and why they are correlated. The conversion of z-mode waves into whistlers and of whistlers into radio emissions does not appear to have been studied before and should be widely applicable to other space contexts.

Additional information

HDR Inherent Requirements  
In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:   

  • Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;  
  • Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);  
  • Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;  
  • Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);  
  • Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;  
  • Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);  
  • Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;  
  • Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);  
  • Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;  
  • Hold a current scuba diving license;  
  • Hold a current Working with Children Check;  
  • Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)  
 You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2658

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