A systematic examination of particle motion in a collapsing magnetic trap model for solar flares
School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St.
Accepted: 1 August 2012
Context. It has been suggested that collapsing magnetic traps may contribute to accelerating particles to high energies during solar flares.
Aims. We present a detailed investigation of the energization processes of particles in collapsing magnetic traps, using a specific model. We also compare for the first time the energization processes in a symmetric and an asymmetric trap model.
Methods. Particle orbits are calculated using guiding centre theory. We systematically investigate the dependence of the energization process on initial position, initial energy and initial pitch angle.
Results. We find that in our symmetric trap model particles can gain up to about 50 times their initial energy, but that for most initial conditions the energy gain is more moderate. Particles with an initial position in the weak field region of the collapsing trap and with pitch angles around 90° achieve the highest energy gain, with betatron acceleration of the perpendicular energy the dominant energization mechanism. For particles with smaller initial pitch angle, but still outside the loss cone, we find the possibility of a significant increase in parallel energy. This increase in parallel energy can be attributed to the curvature term in the parallel equation of motion and the associated energy gain happens in the centre of the trap, where the field line curvature has its maximum. We find qualitatively similar results for the asymmetric trap model, but with smaller energy gains and a larger number of particles escaping from the trap.
Key words: Sun: corona / Sun: flares / Sun: activity / Sun: surface magnetism / Sun: X-rays, gamma rays
© ESO, 2012