Multi-spacecraft observations and transport simulations of solar energetic particles for the May 17th 2012 event
Jeremiah Horrocks Institute, University of Central Lancashire,
2 Institut fuer Experimentelle und Angewandte Physik, University of Kiel, 24098 Kiel, Germany
3 Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD 20723, USA
Accepted: 24 January 2018
Context. The injection, propagation and arrival of solar energetic particles (SEPs) during eruptive solar events is an important and current research topic of heliospheric physics. During the largest solar events, particles may have energies up to a few GeVs and sometimes even trigger ground-level enhancements (GLEs) at Earth. These large SEP events are best investigated through multi-spacecraft observations.
Aims. We aim to study the first GLE-event of solar cycle 24, from 17th May 2012, using data from multiple spacecraft (SOHO, GOES, MSL, STEREO-A, STEREO-B and MESSENGER). These spacecraft are located throughout the inner heliosphere, at heliocentric distances between 0.34 and 1.5 astronomical units (au), covering nearly the whole range of heliospheric longitudes.
Methods. We present and investigate sub-GeV proton time profiles for the event at several energy channels, obtained via different instruments aboard the above spacecraft. We investigated issues caused by magnetic connectivity, and present results of three-dimensional SEP propagation simulations. We gathered virtual time profiles and perform qualitative and quantitative comparisons with observations, assessed longitudinal injection and transport effects as well as peak intensities.
Results. We distinguish different time profile shapes for well-connected and weakly connected observers, and find our onset time analysis to agree with this distinction. At select observers, we identify an additional low-energy component of Energetic Storm Particles (ESPs). Using well-connected observers for normalisation, our simulations are able to accurately recreate both time profile shapes and peak intensities at multiple observer locations.
Conclusions. This synergetic approach combining numerical modelling with multi-spacecraft observations is crucial for understanding the propagation of SEPs within the interplanetary magnetic field. Our novel analysis provides valuable proof of the ability to simulate SEP propagation throughout the inner heliosphere, at a wide range of longitudes. Accurate simulations of SEP transport allow for better constraints of injection regions at the Sun, and thus, better understanding of acceleration processes.
Key words: Sun: activity / Sun: magnetic fields / Sun: particle emission / Sun: heliosphere / methods: numerical / instrumentation: detectors
© ESO 2018