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A Case for Electron-Astrophysics.

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Wicks, Robert T 
Alexandrova, Olga 
Bruno, Roberto 
Burgess, David 


The smallest characteristic scales, at which electron dynamics determines the plasma behaviour, are the next frontier in space and astrophysical plasma research. The analysis of astrophysical processes at these scales lies at the heart of the research theme of electron-astrophysics. Electron scales are the ultimate bottleneck for dissipation of plasma turbulence, which is a fundamental process not understood in the electron-kinetic regime. In addition, plasma electrons often play an important role for the spatial transfer of thermal energy due to the high heat flux associated with their velocity distribution. The regulation of this electron heat flux is likewise not understood. By focussing on these and other fundamental electron processes, the research theme of electron-astrophysics links outstanding science questions of great importance to the fields of space physics, astrophysics, and laboratory plasma physics. In this White Paper, submitted to ESA in response to the Voyage 2050 call, we review a selection of these outstanding questions, discuss their importance, and present a roadmap for answering them through novel space-mission concepts.



Electrons, Voyage 2050, plasma astrophysics, solar wind, space missions, space plasma

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Exp Astron (Dordr)

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
European Commission Horizon 2020 (H2020) ERC (834203)
Science and Technology Facilities Council (ST/S000623/1)