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  1. Abstract

    Test-particle simulations are an important tool for magnetospheric and heliophysics research. In this paper, we present the Space Plasma and Energetic Charged particle TRansport on Unstructured Meshes (SPECTRUM) software as a novel tool for performing these types of simulations in arbitrary astrophysical environments, specified either analytically or numerically (i.e., on a grid). We discuss and benchmark SPECTRUM’s interface with meshed magnetohydrodynamic backgrounds, including output from the Block Adaptive Tree Solar-wind Roe-type Upwind Scheme (BATS-R-US) code. We also investigate the effects of field discretization on both deterministic and stochastic particle motion, with emphasis on space science applications, concluding that the discretization error typically enhances the diffusive behavior of the ensemble.

     
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  2. Abstract

    We compare hybrid (kinetic proton, fluid electron) and particle-in-cell (kinetic proton, kinetic electron) simulations of the solar wind termination shock with parameters similar to those observed by Voyager 2 during its crossing. The steady-state results show excellent agreement between the downstream variations in the density, plasma velocity, and magnetic field. The quasi-perpendicular shock accelerates interstellar pickup ions to a maximum energy limited by the size of the computational domain, with somewhat higher fluxes and maximal energies observed in the particle-in-cell simulation, likely due to differences in the cross-shock electric field arising from electron kinetic-scale effects. The higher fluxes may help address recent discrepancies noted between observations and large-scale hybrid simulations.

     
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  3. Abstract The Voyager 2 crossing of the termination shock indicated that most of the upstream energy from the thermal solar wind ions was transferred to pickup ions (PUIs) and other energetic particles downstream of the shock. We use hybrid simulations at the termination shock for the Voyager 2, flank, and tail directions to evaluate the distributions of different ion species downstream of the shock over the energy range of 0.52–55 keV. Here, we extend the work of Gkioulidou et al., which showed an energy-dependent discrepancy between modeled and energetic neutral atom (ENA) observations, and fit distributions to a hybrid model to show that a population of PUIs accelerated via diffusive shock acceleration (DSA) to become low-energy anomalous cosmic rays (ACRs) can bridge the gap between modeled and observed ENA fluxes. Our results with the inclusion of DSA via hybrid fitting give entirely new and novel evidence that DSA at the termination shock is likely to be an important physical process. These ACRs carry a significant fraction of the energy density at the termination shock (22%, 13%, and 19% in the Voyager 2, flank, and tail directions, respectively). Using these ACRs in global ENA modeling of the heliosphere from 0.52 to 55 keV, we find that scaling factors as large as 1.8–2.5 are no longer required to match ENA observations at energies of ∼1–4 keV. Large discrepancies between modeled and observed ENAs only remain over energies of 4–20 keV, indicating that there may be a further acceleration mechanism in the heliosheath at these energies. 
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  4. Abstract

    The shape of the heliosphere is currently under active debate. Energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) offer the best method for investigating the global structure of the heliosphere. To date, the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) and the Ion and Neutral Camera (INCA) that was on board Cassini provide the only global ENA observations of the heliosphere. While extensive modeling has been done at IBEX-Hi energies (0.52–6 keV), no global ENA modeling has been conducted for INCA energies (5.2–55 keV). Here, we use an ENA model of the heliosphere based on hybrid results that capture the heating and acceleration of pickup ions (PUIs) at the termination shock to compare modeled global ENA results with IBEX-Hi and INCA observations using both a long- and short-tail model of the heliosphere. We find that the modeled ENA results for the two heliotail configurations produce similar results from the IBEX-Hi through the INCA energies. We conclude from our modeled ENAs, which only include PUI acceleration at the termination shock, that ENA observations in currently available energy ranges are insufficient for probing the shape and length of the heliotail. However, as a prediction for the future IMAP-Ultra mission (3–300 keV) we present modeled ENA maps at 80 keV, where the cooling length (∼600 au) is greater than the distance where the long- and short-heliotail models differ (∼400 au), and find that IMAP-Ultra should be able to identify the shape of the heliotail, predicting differences in the north lobe to downwind flux ratio between the models at 48%.

     
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