On the generation of Alfvén waves by solar energetic particles
Department of Physical Sciences, PO Box 64, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 16 May 2003
A simple analytical theory of Alfvén waves amplified by streaming solar energetic particles (SEPs) is studied. It is pointed out that a finite time-integrated net flux of energetic protons has to pass each point in space before we can expect Alfvén waves to be significantly modified by the streaming instability. The time-integrated net proton flux needed for the time-integrated wave growth rate (or wave growth, for short) to exceed unity is evaluated. Assuming that protons stream much faster than the waves, we evaluate the wave growth as a function of position and wavenumber for a specified proton injection energy spectrum, . The wave growth is found to be proportional to , where v and p are the particle speed and momentum, and to the local Alfvén speed . Thus, maximum wave growth is achieved at the location of maximum (at a few solar radii), and the minimum value of required for the wave growth to exceed unity there is a few times 10 protons per unit solid angle (in coordinate space) at the solar surface. If is below this value, test-particle theory is a valid description of particle transport and acceleration. The value is not exceeded (above 1 MeV energies) in small gradual SEP events having peak 1-MeV proton intensities below ∼10 protons (cmsr s MeV)-1 at 1 AU. The spatial and momentum dependence of the wave growth can also be used to estimate the maximum emission strength of a moving proton source in the interplanetary medium. For a strong source moving through the solar wind at constant super-Alfvénic speed, the number of escaping particles per unit time and flux-tube cross section is approximately constant in time, predicting a plateau-type time–intensity profile observed ahead of the source. The model reproduces observations of streaming-limited intensities at energies around 10 MeV and explains the double peaked injection profiles observed in large SEP events.
Key words: instabilities / Sun: particle emission / turbulence
© ESO, 2003