Solar energetic particle transport near a heliospheric current sheet

Battarbee, Markus orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-7055-551X, Dalla, Silvia orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7837-5780 and Marsh, Mike S (2017) Solar energetic particle transport near a heliospheric current sheet. The Astrophysical Journal, 836 (1). ISSN 0004-637X

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Solar energetic particles (SEPs), a major component of space weather, propagate through the interplanetary medium strongly guided by the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF). In this work, we analyze the implications that a flat Heliospheric Current Sheet (HCS) has on proton propagation from SEP release sites to the Earth. We simulate proton propagation by integrating fully 3D trajectories near an analytically defined flat current sheet, collecting comprehensive statistics into histograms, fluence maps, and virtual observer time profiles within an energy range of 1–800 MeV. We show that protons experience significant current sheet drift to distant longitudes, causing time profiles to exhibit multiple components, which are a potential source of confusing interpretations of observations. We find that variation of the current sheet thickness within a realistic parameter range has little effect on particle propagation. We show that the IMF configuration strongly affects the deceleration of protons. We show that in our model, the presence of a flat equatorial HCS in the inner heliosphere limits the crossing of protons into the opposite hemisphere.

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