Energetic-particle-flux decreases related to magnetic cloud passages as observed by the Helios 1 and 2 spacecraft
Space Research Group, Universidad de Alcalá,
2 Institut für Experimentelle und Angewandte Physik, Christian Albrechts Universität zu Kiel, 24118 Kiel, Germany
Received: 19 April 2013
Accepted: 1 July 2013
It has been observed that a magnetic cloud (MC) can affect the propagation conditions of solar energetic particles and low-energy cosmic rays. This effect is commonly observed as a decrease in the energetic-particle fluxes, which are partially excluded from the interior of the cloud. The twin spacecraft Helios 1 and Helios 2 explored the inner heliosphere between 0.29 AU and 1 AU from the mid 1970s to early 1980s. The E6 Experiment onboard Helios is the energetic-particle detector able to measure electrons, protons and alphas in the range of 300 keV/n to >50 MeV/n. It has been shown previously that, in absence of strong solar-particle events, the single detector rates of the E6 anti-coincidence and saphire Cherenkov detectors are sensitive to cosmic rays with rigidities above GV. Because their statistical precision is in the order of hundreds of counts per second, both detectors are very well suited for studying the short-term decreases observed in their count rates during magnetic cloud passages. A total of 35 magnetic clouds have been identified at the Helios locations. Nineteen of them were free of solar energetic-particle contamination. This subset led us to investigate the effect of magnetic clouds on the galactic cosmic ray (GCR) flux. The depth of the decreases are studied in terms of the solar wind and magnetic field properties of the magnetic cloud. We found dependences with the MC magnetic field strength, magnetic rigidity and with the MC time of flight, with the latter supporting the idea of magnetically closed MCs, i.e. with the two legs rooted in the Sun. We also studied MC properties and found evidence of MC expansion during its journey through the inner heliosphere.
Key words: Sun: coronal mass ejections (CMEs) / solar-terrestrial relations / solar wind / Sun: particle emission / astroparticle physics
© ESO, 2013