Parameter estimation of superdiffusive motion of energetic particles upstream of heliospheric shocks
Department of PhysicsUniversity of Calabria,
Ponte P. Bucci, Cubo 31C,
2 Department of Mathematics, University of Waikato, PB 3105 Hamilton, New Zealand
3 Institut für Theoretische Physik IV, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universitätsstrasse 150, 44780 Bochum, Germany
Received: 7 November 2014
Accepted: 25 March 2015
Context. In-situ spacecraft observations recently suggested that the transport of energetic particles accelerated at heliospheric shocks can be anomalous, i.e. the mean square displacement can grow non-linearly in time. In particular, a new analysis technique has permitted the study of particle transport properties from energetic particle time profiles upstream of interplanetary shocks. Indeed, the time/spatial power laws of the differential intensity upstream of several shocks are indicative of superdiffusion.
Aims. A complete determination of the key parameters of superdiffusive transport comprises the power-law index, the superdiffusion coefficient, the related transition scale at which the energetic particle profiles turn to decay as power laws, and the energy spectral index of the shock accelerated particles.
Methods. Assuming large-scale spatial homogeneity of the background plasma, the power-law behaviour can been derived from both a (microscopic) propagator formalism and a (macroscopic) fractional transport equation. We compare the two approaches and find a relation between the diffusion coefficients used in the two formalisms. Based on the assumption of superdiffusive transport, we quantitatively derive these parameters by studying energetic particle profiles observed by the Ulysses and Voyager 2 spacecraft upstream of shocks in the heliosphere, for which a superdiffusive particle transport has previously been observed. Further, we have jointly studied the electron energy spectra, comparing the values of the spectral indices observed with those predicted by the standard diffusive shock acceleration theory and by a model based on superdiffusive transport.
Results. For a number of interplanetary shocks and for the solar wind termination shock, for the first time we obtain the anomalous diffusion constants and the scale at which the probability of particle free paths changes to a power-law. The investigation of the particle energy spectra indicates that a shock acceleration theory based on superdiffusive transport better explains observed spectral index values.
Conclusions. This study, together with the analysis of energetic particles upstream of shock waves, allows us to fully determine the transport properties of accelerated particles, even in the case of superdiffusion. This represents a new powerful tool to understand the transport and acceleration processes at astrophysical shocks.
Key words: diffusion / shock waves / Sun: heliosphere / acceleration of particles / methods: data analysis
© ESO, 2015