First simultaneous observations of a near-relativistic electron spike event by both STEREO spacecraft
Institut für Experimentelle und Angewandte Physik, Universität
2 SRG, Universidad de Alcalá, Dpto. de Física y Matemáticas, 28871 Alcalá de Henares, Spain
Accepted: 19 June 2015
Solar electron spike events are a special subclass of near-relativistic electron events characterized by their short duration, symmetric time profile, and their strong anisotropic pitch angle distribution. All previous studied events were only observed by a single spacecraft (s/c). For the first time, we present measurements of this kind of an electron spike event that was observed simultaneously by both close-spaced STEREO s/c on 2 May 2014. The longitudinal separation angle between STEREO-A (STA) and STEREO-B (STB) was 38°. The spikes at STA and STB are characterized by very short durations of ≤12 min at full-width at half maximum (FWHM) and almost identical and symmetric time profiles. They exhibit similar properties in durations, pitch angle distributions (PADs), energy spectra, and peak intensities. The spike parent source was situated close to the STA nominal magnetic footpoint and was separated by 48° from STB’s footpoint. The intensity distribution and the relative onset timing behaved opposite to what is expected: STB measured a higher intensity and an earlier onset than the nominally better connected STA. We suggest that the spike electrons undergo a substantial nonradial injection into interplanetary (IP) space from the parent source, a flaring active region (AR), and propagate in a strong nonradial diverging magnetic field. In addition we show that because of the spike properties it is evident that, irrespective of how the electrons were injected into the IP medium, the en route particle scattering conditions along the paths to STA and STB were very similar. Evidently both s/c detected different parts of the same beam whose angular extension was at least 38° at 1 AU, comparable to the longitudinal separation between STA and STB.
Key words: Sun: flares / Sun: particle emission / acceleration of particles / interplanetary medium
© ESO, 2015