Statistical Relationship Between Long-duration High-Energy Gamma-Ray Emission and Solar Energetic Particles

Bruno, Alessandro, de Nolfo, Georgia A., Ryan, James M., Richardson, Ian G. and Dalla, Silvia orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7837-5780 (2023) Statistical Relationship Between Long-duration High-Energy Gamma-Ray Emission and Solar Energetic Particles. Astrophysical Journal, 953 (2). ISSN 0004-637X

[thumbnail of VOR]
PDF (VOR) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.


Official URL:


Large solar eruptions are often associated with long-duration gamma-ray emission extending well above 100 MeV. While this phenomenon is known to be caused by high-energy ions interacting with the solar atmosphere, the underlying dominant acceleration process remains under debate. Potential mechanisms include continuous acceleration of particles trapped within large coronal loops or acceleration at coronal mass ejection (CME)-driven shocks, with subsequent back-propagation towards the Sun. As a test of the latter scenario, previous studies have explored the relationship between the inferred particle population producing the high-energy gamma-rays, and the population of solar energetic particles (SEPs) measured in situ. However, given the significant limitations on available observations, these estimates unavoidably rely on a number of assumptions. In an effort to better constrain theories of the gamma-ray emission origin, we re-examine the calculation uncertainties and how they influence the comparison of these two proton populations. We show that, even accounting for conservative assumptions related to gamma-ray flare, SEP event and interplanetary scattering modeling, their statistical relationship is only poorly/moderately significant. However, though the level of correlation is of interest, it does not provide conclusive evidence for or against a causal connection. The main result of this investigation is that the fraction of the shock-accelerated protons required to account for the gamma-ray observations is >20-40% for six of the fourteen eruptions analyzed. Such high values argue against current CME-shock origin models, predicting a <2% back-precipitation, hence the computed numbers of high-energy SEPs appear to be greatly insufficient to sustain the measured gamma-ray emission.

Repository Staff Only: item control page