skip to main content

Title: Galactic Cosmic-Ray Propagation in the Inner Heliosphere: Improved Force-field Model

A key goal of heliophysics is to understand how cosmic rays propagate in the solar system’s complex, dynamic environment. One observable is solar modulation, i.e., how the flux and spectrum of cosmic rays change as they propagate inward. We construct an improved force-field model, taking advantage of new measurements of magnetic power spectral density by Parker Solar Probe to predict solar modulation within the Earth’s orbit. We find that modulation of cosmic rays between the Earth and Sun is modest, at least at solar minimum and in the ecliptic plane. Our results agree much better with the limited data on cosmic-ray radial gradients within Earth’s orbit than past treatments of the force-field model. Our predictions can be tested with forthcoming direct cosmic-ray measurements in the inner heliosphere by Parker Solar Probe and Solar Orbiter. They are also important for interpreting the gamma-ray emission from the Sun due to scattering of cosmic rays with solar matter and photons.

; ;
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Article No. 27
DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Revealing the formation, dynamics, and contribution to plasma heating of magnetic field fluctuations in the solar wind is an important task for heliospheric physics and for a general plasma turbulence theory. Spacecraft observations in the solar wind are limited to spatially localized measurements, so that the evolution of fluctuation properties with solar wind propagation is mostly studied via statistical analyses of data sets collected by different spacecraft at various radial distances from the Sun. In this study we investigate the evolution of turbulence in the Earth’s magnetosheath, a plasma system sharing many properties with the solar wind. The near-Earth space environment is being explored by multiple spacecraft missions, which may allow us to trace the evolution of magnetosheath fluctuations with simultaneous measurements at different distances from their origin, the Earth’s bow shock. We compare ARTEMIS and Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) Mission measurements in the Earth magnetosheath and Parker Solar Probe measurements of the solar wind at different radial distances. The comparison is supported by three numerical simulations of the magnetosheath magnetic and plasma fluctuations: global hybrid simulation resolving ion kinetic and including effects of Earth’s dipole field and realistic bow shock, hybrid and Hall-MHD simulations in expanding boxes that mimicmore »the magnetosheath volume expansion with the radial distance from the dayside bow shock. The comparison shows that the magnetosheath can be considered as a miniaturized version of the solar wind system with much stronger plasma thermal anisotropy and an almost equal amount of forward and backward propagating Alfvén waves. Thus, many processes, such as turbulence development and kinetic instability contributions to plasma heating, occurring on slow timescales and over large distances in the solar wind, occur more rapidly in the magnetosheath and can be investigated in detail by multiple near-Earth spacecraft.

    « less
  2. Abstract

    Machine learning (ML) has been applied to space weather problems with increasing frequency in recent years, driven by an influx of in-situ measurements and a desire to improve modeling and forecasting capabilities throughout the field. Space weather originates from solar perturbations and is comprised of the resulting complex variations they cause within the numerous systems between the Sun and Earth. These systems are often tightly coupled and not well understood. This creates a need for skillful models with knowledge about the confidence of their predictions. One example of such a dynamical system highly impacted by space weather is the thermosphere, the neutral region of Earth’s upper atmosphere. Our inability to forecast it has severe repercussions in the context of satellite drag and computation of probability of collision between two space objects in low Earth orbit (LEO) for decision making in space operations. Even with (assumed) perfect forecast of model drivers, our incomplete knowledge of the system results in often inaccurate thermospheric neutral mass density predictions. Continuing efforts are being made to improve model accuracy, but density models rarely provide estimates of confidence in predictions. In this work, we propose two techniques to develop nonlinear ML regression models to predictmore »thermospheric density while providing robust and reliable uncertainty estimates: Monte Carlo (MC) dropout and direct prediction of the probability distribution, both using the negative logarithm of predictive density (NLPD) loss function. We show the performance capabilities for models trained on both local and global datasets. We show that the NLPD loss provides similar results for both techniques but the direct probability distribution prediction method has a much lower computational cost. For the global model regressed on the Space Environment Technologies High Accuracy Satellite Drag Model (HASDM) density database, we achieve errors of approximately 11% on independent test data with well-calibrated uncertainty estimates. Using an in-situ CHAllenging Minisatellite Payload (CHAMP) density dataset, models developed using both techniques provide test error on the order of 13%. The CHAMP models—on validation and test data—are within 2% of perfect calibration for the twenty prediction intervals tested. We show that this model can also be used to obtain global density predictions with uncertainties at a given epoch.

    « less
  3. Aims. We analyse particle, radio, and X-ray observations during the first relativistic proton event of solar cycle 25 detected on Earth. The aim is to gain insight into the relationship between relativistic solar particles detected in space and the processes of acceleration and propagation in solar eruptive events. Methods. To this end, we used ground-based neutron monitor measurements of relativistic nucleons and space-borne measurements of electrons with similar speed to determine the arrival times of the first particles at 1 AU and to infer their solar release times. We compared the release times with the time histories of non-thermal electrons in the solar atmosphere and their escape to interplanetary space, as traced by radio spectra and X-ray light curves and images. Results. Non-thermal electrons in the corona are found to be accelerated in different regions. Some are confined in closed magnetic structures expanding during the course of the event. Three episodes of electron escape to the interplanetary space are revealed by groups of decametric-to-kilometric type III bursts. The first group appears on the low-frequency side of a type II burst produced by a coronal shock wave. The two latter groups are accompanied at higher frequencies by bursts with rapid driftsmore »to both lower and higher frequencies (forward- or reverse-drifting bursts). They are produced by electron beams that propagate both sunward and anti-sunward. The first relativistic electrons and nucleons observed near Earth are released with the third group of type III bursts, more than ten minutes after the first signatures of non-thermal electrons and of the formation of the shock wave in the corona. Although the eruptive active region is near the central meridian, several tens of degrees east of the footpoint of the nominal Parker spiral to the Earth, the kilometric spectrum of the type III bursts and the in situ detection of Langmuir waves demonstrate a direct magnetic connection between the L1 Lagrange point and the field lines onto which the electron beams are released at the Sun. Conclusions. We interpret the forward- and reverse-drifting radio bursts as evidence of reconnection between the closed expanding magnetic structures of an erupting flux rope and ambient open magnetic field lines. We discuss the origin of relativistic particles near the Earth across two scenarios: (1) acceleration at the CME-driven shock as it intercepts interplanetary magnetic field lines rooted in the western solar hemisphere and (2) an alternative where the relativistic particles are initially confined in the erupting magnetic fields and get access to the open field lines to the Earth through these reconnection events.« less
  4. Abstract In this Letter, we report observations of magnetic switchback (SB) features near 1 au using data from the Wind spacecraft. These features appear to be strikingly similar to the ones observed by the Parker Solar Probe mission closer to the Sun: namely, one-sided spikes (or enhancements) in the solar-wind bulk speed V that correlate/anticorrelate with the spikes seen in the radial-field component B R . In the solar-wind streams that we analyzed, these specific SB features near 1 au are associated with large-amplitude Alfvénic oscillations that propagate outward from the Sun along a local background (prevalent) magnetic field B 0 that is nearly radial. We also show that, when B 0 is nearly perpendicular to the radial direction, the large-amplitude Alfvénic oscillations display variations in V that are two sided (i.e., V alternately increases and decreases depending on the vector Δ B = B − B 0 ). As a consequence, SBs may not always appear as one-sided spikes in V , especially at larger heliocentric distances where the local background field statistically departs from the radial direction. We suggest that SBs can be well described by large-amplitude Alfvénic fluctuations if the field rotation is computed with respect tomore »a well-determined local background field that, in some cases, may deviate from the large-scale Parker field.« less
  5. Abstract

    Wind spacecraft measurements are analyzed to obtain a current sheet (CS) normal widthdcsdistribution of 3374 confirmed magnetic reconnection exhausts in the ecliptic plane of the solar wind at 1 au. Thedcsdistribution displays a nearly exponential decay from a peak atdcs= 25dito a median atdcs= 85diand a 95th percentile atdcs= 905diwith a maximum exhaust width atdcs= 8077di. A magnetic fieldθ-rotation angle distribution increases linearly from a relatively few high-shear events toward a broad peak at 35° <θ< 65°. The azimuthalϕangles of the CS normal directions of 430 thickdcs≥ 500diexhausts are consistent with a dominant Parker-spiral magnetic field and a CS normal along the ortho-Parker direction. The CS normal orientations of 370 kinetic-scaledcs< 25diexhausts are isotropic in contrast, and likely associated with Alfvénic solar wind turbulence. We propose that the alignment of exhaust normal directions from narrowdcs∼ 15–25diwidths to well beyonddcs∼ 500diwith an ortho-Parker azimuthal direction of a large-scale heliospheric current sheet (HCS) is a consequence of CS bifurcation and turbulence within the HCS exhaust that may trigger reconnection of the adjacent pair of bifurcated CSs. The proposed HCS-avalanche scenario suggests that the underlying large-scale parent HCS closer to the Sun evolves with heliocentric distance to fracture into many, more ormore »less aligned, secondary CSs due to reconnection. A few wide exhaust-associated HCS-like CSs could represent a population of HCSs that failed to reconnect as frequently between the Sun and 1 au as other HCSs.

    « less