Modelling three-dimensional transport of solar energetic protons in a corotating interaction region generated with EUHFORIA⋆
Department of Mathematics, KU Leuven, Belgium
2 Departament Física Quàntica i Astrofísica, Institut de Ciències del Cosmos (ICCUB), Universitat de Barcelona, Spain
3 Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Finland
Accepted: 18 November 2018
Aims. We introduce a new solar energetic particle (SEP) transport code that aims at studying the effects of different background solar wind configurations on SEP events. In this work, we focus on the influence of varying solar wind velocities on the adiabatic energy changes of SEPs and study how a non-Parker background solar wind can trap particles temporarily at small heliocentric radial distances (≲1.5 AU) thereby influencing the cross-field diffusion of SEPs in the interplanetary space.
Methods. Our particle transport code computes particle distributions in the heliosphere by solving the focused transport equation (FTE) in a stochastic manner. Particles are propagated in a solar wind generated by the newly developed data-driven heliospheric model, EUHFORIA. In this work, we solve the FTE, including all solar wind effects, cross-field diffusion, and magnetic-field gradient and curvature drifts. As initial conditions, we assume a delta injection of 4 MeV protons, spread uniformly over a selected region at the inner boundary of the model. To verify the model, we first propagate particles in nominal undisturbed fast and slow solar winds. Thereafter, we simulate and analyse the propagation of particles in a solar wind containing a corotating interaction region (CIR). We study the particle intensities and anisotropies measured by a fleet of virtual observers located at different positions in the heliosphere, as well as the global distribution of particles in interplanetary space.
Results. The differential intensity-time profiles obtained in the simulations using the nominal Parker solar wind solutions illustrate the considerable adiabatic deceleration undergone by SEPs, especially when propagating in a fast solar wind. In the case of the solar wind containing a CIR, we observe that particles adiabatically accelerate when propagating in the compression waves bounding the CIR at small radial distances. In addition, for r ≳ 1.5 AU, there are particles accelerated by the reverse shock as indicated by, for example, the anisotropies and pitch-angle distributions of the particles. Moreover, a decrease in high-energy particles at the stream interface (SI) inside the CIR is observed. The compression/shock waves and the magnetic configuration near the SI may also act as a magnetic mirror, producing long-lasting high intensities at small radial distances. We also illustrate how the efficiency of the cross-field diffusion in spreading particles in the heliosphere is enhanced due to compressed magnetic fields. Finally, the inclusion of cross-field diffusion enables some particles to cross both the forward compression wave at small radial distances and the forward shock at larger radial distances. This results in the formation of an accelerated particle population centred on the forward shock, despite the lack of magnetic connection between the particle injection region and this shock wave. Particles injected in the fast solar wind stream cannot reach the forward shock since the SI acts as a diffusion barrier.
Key words: solar wind / Sun: magnetic fields / Sun: particle emission / acceleration of particles
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