Time dependence of Fe/O ratio within a 3D solar energetic particle propagation model including drift

Dalla, Silvia orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7837-5780, Marsh, Michael, Zelina, p and Laitinen, Timo Lauri mikael orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7719-7783 (2017) Time dependence of Fe/O ratio within a 3D solar energetic particle propagation model including drift. Astronomy and astrophysics, 598 . ISSN 0004-6361

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/201628618


Context. The intensity profiles of iron and oxygen in Solar Energetic Particle (SEP) events often display differences that result in a decreasing Fe/O ratio over time. The physical mechanisms behind this behaviour are not fully understood, but these observational signatures provide important tests of physical modelling efforts.
Aims. In this paper we study the propagation of iron and oxygen SEP ions using a 3D model of propagation which includes the effect of guiding centre drift in a Parker spiral magnetic field. We derive time intensity profiles for a variety of observer locations and study the temporal evolution of the Fe/O ratio.
Methods. We use a 3D full orbit test particle model which includes scattering. The configuration of the interplanetary magnetic field is a unipolar Parker spiral. Particles are released instantaneously from a compact region at two solar radii and allowed to propagate in 3D.
Results. Both Fe and O experience significant transport across the magnetic field due to gradient and curvature drifts. We find that Fe ions drift more than O ions due to their larger mass-to-charge ratio, so that an observer that is not magnetically well connected to the source region will observe Fe arriving before O, for particles within the same range in energy per nucleon. As a result, for the majority of observer locations, the Fe/O ratio displays a decrease in time.
Conclusions. We conclude that propagation effects associated with drifts produce a decay over time of the Fe/O ratio, qualitatively reproducing that observed in SEP event profiles.

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