Solar energetic particle access to distant longitudes through turbulent field-line meandering
Jeremiah Horrocks Institute, University of Central Lancashire,
2 Université Libre de Bruxelles, Service de Physique Statistique et des Plasmas, CP 231, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
3 Department of Mathematics, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand
4 Department of Physics and KIPAC, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
Received: 21 November 2015
Accepted: 23 March 2016
Context. Current solar energetic particle (SEP) propagation models describe the effects of interplanetary plasma turbulence on SEPs as diffusion, using a Fokker-Planck (FP) equation. However, FP models cannot explain the observed fast access of SEPs across the average magnetic field to regions that are widely separated in longitude within the heliosphere without using unrealistically strong cross-field diffusion.
Aims. We study whether the recently suggested early non-diffusive phase of SEP propagation can explain the wide SEP events with realistic particle transport parameters.
Methods. We used a novel model that accounts for the SEP propagation along field lines that meander as a result of plasma turbulence. Such a non-diffusive propagation mode has been shown to dominate the SEP cross-field propagation early in the SEP event history. We compare the new model to the traditional approach, and to SEP observations.
Results. Using the new model, we reproduce the observed longitudinal extent of SEP peak fluxes that are characterised by a Gaussian profile with σ = 30−50°, while current diffusion theory can only explain extents of 11° with realistic diffusion coefficients. Our model also reproduces the timing of SEP arrival at distant longitudes, which cannot be explained using the diffusion model.
Conclusions. The early onset of SEPs over a wide range of longitudes can be understood as a result of the effects of magnetic field-line random walk in the interplanetary medium and requires an SEP transport model that properly describes the non-diffusive early phase of SEP cross-field propagation.
Key words: Sun: particle emission / turbulence / Sun: heliosphere / magnetic fields / diffusion
© ESO, 2016
Open Access article, published by EDP Sciences, under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.