Solar energetic particle drifts and the energy dependence of 1 AU charge states

Dalla, Silvia orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7837-5780, Marsh, Michael and Battarbee, Markus orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-7055-551X (2017) Solar energetic particle drifts and the energy dependence of 1 AU charge states. Astrophysical Journal, 834 (2). p. 167. ISSN 0004-637X

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The event-averaged charge state of heavy ion Solar Energetic Particles (SEPs), measured at 1 AU from the Sun, typically increases with the ions’ kinetic energy. The origin of this behaviour has been ascribed to processes taking place within the acceleration region. In this paper we study the propagation through interplanetary space of SEP Fe ions, injected near the Sun with a variety of charge states that are uniformly distributed in energy, by means of a 3D test particle model. In our simulations, due to gradient and curvature drifts associated with the Parker spiral magnetic field, ions of different charge propagate with very different efficiencies to an observer that is not magnetically well connected to the source region. As a result we find that, for many observer locations, the 1 AU event-averaged charge state <Q>, as obtained from our model, displays an increase with particle energy E, in qualitative agreement with spacecraft observations. We conclude that drift-associated propagation is a possible explanation for the observed distribution of <Q> versus E in SEP events, and that the distribution measured in interplanetary space cannot be taken to represent that at injection.

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