Energetic particle transport across the mean magnetic field: before diffusion

Laitinen, Timo Lauri mikael orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7719-7783 and Dalla, Silvia orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7837-5780 (2017) Energetic particle transport across the mean magnetic field: before diffusion. The Astrophysical Journal, 834 (2). p. 127. ISSN 0004-637X

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3847/1538-4357/834/2/127


Current particle transport models describe the propagation of charged particles across the mean field direction in turbulent plasmas as diffusion. However, recent studies suggest that at short time- scales, such as soon after solar energetic particle (SEP) injection, particles remain on turbulently meandering field lines, which results in non-diffusive initial propagation across the mean magnetic field. In this work, we use a new technique to investigate how the particles are displaced from their original field lines, and quantify the parameters of the transition from field-aligned particle propagation along meandering field lines to particle diffusion across the mean magnetic field. We show that the initial decoupling of the particles from the field lines is slow, and particles remain within a Larmor radius from their initial meandering field lines for tens to hundreds of Larmor periods, for 0.1-10 MeV protons in turbulence conditions typical of the solar wind at 1 AU. Subsequently, particles decouple from their initial field lines and after hundreds to thousands of Larmor periods reach time-asymptotic diffusive behaviour consistent with particle diffusion across the mean field caused by the meandering of the field lines. We show that the typical duration of the pre-diffusive phase, hours to tens of hours for 10 MeV protons in 1 AU solar wind turbulence conditions, is significant for SEP propagation to 1 AU and must be taken into account when modelling SEP propagation in the interplanetary space.

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