Volume 633, January 2020
|Number of page(s)||17|
|Published online||15 January 2020|
Cosmic-ray propagation around the Sun: investigating the influence of the solar magnetic field on the cosmic-ray Sun shadow
Theoretische Physik IV, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, 44780 Bochum, Germany
2 Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center, Madison, WI 53703, USA
Accepted: 24 October 2019
The cosmic-ray Sun shadow, which is caused by high-energy charged cosmic rays being blocked and deflected by the Sun and its magnetic field, has been observed by various experiments, such as Argo-YBJ, Tibet, HAWC, and IceCube. Most notably, the shadow’s size and depth was recently shown to correlate with the 11-year solar cycle. The interpretation of such measurements, which help to bridge the gap between solar physics and high-energy particle astrophysics, requires a solid theoretical understanding of cosmic-ray propagation in the coronal magnetic field. It is the aim of this paper to establish theoretical predictions for the cosmic-ray Sun shadow in order to identify observables that can be used to study this link in more detail. To determine the cosmic-ray Sun shadow, we numerically compute trajectories of charged cosmic rays in the energy range of 5−316 TeV for five different mass numbers. We present and analyze the resulting shadow images for protons and iron, as well as for typically measured cosmic-ray compositions. We confirm the observationally established correlation between the magnitude of the shadowing effect and both the mean sunspot number and the polarity of the magnetic field during the solar cycle. We also show that during low solar activity, the Sun’s shadow behaves similarly to that of a dipole, for which we find a non-monotonous dependence on energy. In particular, the shadow can become significantly more pronounced than the geometrical disk expected for a totally unmagnetized Sun. For times of high solar activity, we instead predict the shadow to depend monotonously on energy and to be generally weaker than the geometrical shadow for all tested energies. These effects should become visible in energy-resolved measurements of the Sun shadow, and may in the future become an independent measure for the level of disorder in the solar magnetic field.
Key words: Sun: activity / Sun: corona / Sun: magnetic fields / magnetic fields
© ESO 2020
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