Suprathermal Ion Acceleration in Multiple Contracting and Reconnecting Inertial-scale Flux Ropes in the Supersonic Solar Wind.

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Jakobus Albertus le Roux1, Gary Paul Zank1 and Gary M Webb2, (1)University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, AL, United States, (2)University of Alabama in Huntsville, CSPAR, Huntsville, AL, United States
3D and 2D MHD turbulence simulations with a strong large-scale magnetic field show that the turbulence is filled with quasi-2D inertial-scale flux ropes that intermittently reconnect, while test particle simulations stress how suprathermal particles can be efficiently accelerated to produce power law spectra (kappa distributions) when traversing multiple flux ropes. Solar wind observations indicate that the statistical properties of the turbulence agree well with the MHD turbulence simulation. In addition, recent observations show the presence of different size inertial-scale magnetic islands in the slow solar wind near the heliospheric current sheet, evidence of island merging, and of heating of ions and electrons in their vicinity. At the same time, observations in the supersonic solar wind suggest the existence of suprathermal ion spectra in the solar wind frame where the distribution function is a power law in momentum with a -5 exponent. We present a new statistical transport theory to model the acceleration of superthermal ions traversing multiple contracting and reconnecting inertial-scale quasi-2D flux ropes in the supersonic solar wind. Steady-state analytical solutions for the accelerated suprathermal particle spectrum in a radially expanding solar wind will be explored to show under what conditions one can reproduce the observed superthermal power-law slope.