Squeezing of Particle Distributions by Expanding Magnetic Turbulence and Space Weather Variability
Thursday, 18 December 2014
Among the space weather effects due to gradual solar storms, greatly enhanced high-energy ion fluxes can cause radiation damage to satellites, spacecraft, and astronauts, which motivates examination of the transport of high-energy solar ions to Earth orbit. Ions of low kinetic energy (up to ∼2
MeV/nucleon) from impulsive solar events exhibit abrupt changes due to filamentation of magnetic connection from the Sun, indicating that anisotropic, field-aligned magnetic flux tube-like structures persist to Earth orbit. By employing a corresponding spherical two-component model of Alfv\’enic (slab) and 2D magnetic fluctuations to trace simulated trajectories in the solar wind, we show that the distribution of high-energy (E≥1
GeV) protons from gradual solar events is squeezed toward magnetic flux structures with a specific polarity due to the conical shape of the flux structures, which results from the expanding flow of the solar wind. It is difficult to observationally determine what polarity of flux structure the Earth is in at a given time, so this transport phenomenon contributes to event-to-event variability in ground level enhancements of GeV-range ions from solar storms, presenting a fundamental uncertainty in space weather prediction. Partially supported by the Thailand Research Fund, a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Thailand Center of Excellence in Physics, a Research Fellowship from the Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, the U.S. NSF (AGS-1063439 and SHINE AGS-1156094), NASA (Heliophysics Theory NNX08AI47G & NNX11AJ44G), and the Solar Probe Plus/ISIS project.
KEYWORDS:  SPACE PLASMA PHYSICS / Charged particle motion and acceleration,  SPACE PLASMA PHYSICS / Turbulence,  INTERPLANETARY PHYSICS / Energetic particles, solar,  SPACE WEATHER / Space radiation environment