Interplanetary spread of solar energetic protons near a high-speed solar wind stream
Department of Mathematics, KU Leuven, Belgium
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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 February 2019
Aims. We study how a fast solar wind stream embedded in a slow solar wind influences the spread of solar energetic protons in interplanetary space. In particular, we aim at understanding how the particle intensity and anisotropy vary along interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) lines that encounter changing solar wind conditions such as the shock waves bounding a corotating interaction region (CIR). Moreover, we study how the intensities and anisotropies vary as a function of the longitudinal and latitudinal coordinate, and how the width of the particle intensities evolves with the heliographic radial distance. Furthermore, we study how cross-field diffusion may alter these spatial profiles.
Methods. To model the energetic protons, we used a recently developed particle transport code that computes particle distributions in the heliosphere by solving the focused transport equation (FTE) in a stochastic manner. The particles are propagated in a solar wind containing a CIR, which was generated by the heliospheric model, EUHFORIA. We study four cases in which we assume a delta injection of 4 MeV protons spread uniformly over different regions at the inner boundary of the model. These source regions have the same size and shape, yet are shifted in longitude from each other, and are therefore magnetically connected to different solar wind conditions.
Results. The intensity and anisotropy profiles along selected IMF lines vary strongly according to the different solar wind conditions encountered along the field line. The IMF lines crossing the shocks bounding the CIR show the formation of accelerated particle populations, with the reverse shock wave being a more efficient accelerator than the forward shock wave. The longitudinal intensity profiles near the CIR are highly asymmetric in contrast to the profiles obtained in a nominal solar wind. For the injection regions that do not cross the transition zone between the fast and slow solar wind, we observe a steep intensity drop of several orders of magnitude near the stream interface (SI) inside the CIR. Moreover, we demonstrate that the longitudinal width of the particle intensity distribution can increase, decrease, or remain constant with heliographic radial distance, reflecting the underlying IMF structure. Finally, we show how the deflection of the IMF at the shock waves and the compression of the IMF in the CIR deforms the three-dimensional shape of the particle distribution in such a way that the original shape of the injection profile is lost.
Key words: solar wind / Sun: particle emission / Sun: magnetic fields / acceleration of particles
© ESO 2019