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  1. Abstract

    The waves generated by high-energy proton and alpha particles streaming from solar flares into regions of colder plasma are explored using particle-in-cell simulations. Initial distribution functions for the protons and alphas consist of two populations: an energetic, streaming population represented by an anisotropic (T>T), one-sided kappa function and a cold, Maxwellian background population. The anisotropies and nonzero heat fluxes of these distributions destabilize oblique waves with a range of frequencies below the proton cyclotron frequency. These waves scatter particles out of the tails of the initial distributions along constant-energy surfaces in the wave frame. Overlap of the nonlinear resonance widths allows particles to scatter into near-isotropic distributions by the end of the simulations. The dynamics of3He are explored using test particles. Their temperatures can increase by a factor of nearly 20. Propagation of such waves into regions above and below the flare site can lead to heating and transport of3He into the flare acceleration region. The amount of heated3He that will be driven into the flare site is proportional to the wave energy. Using values from our simulations, we show that the abundance of3He driven into the acceleration region should approach that of4He in the corona. Therefore, waves driven by energetic ions produced in flares are a strong candidate to drive the enhancements of3He observed in impulsive flares.

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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

    We conduct two-dimensional particle-in-cell simulations to investigate the scattering of electron heat flux by self-generated oblique electromagnetic waves. The heat flux is modeled as a bi-kappa distribution with aT>Ttemperature anisotropy maintained by continuous injection at the boundaries. The anisotropic distribution excites oblique whistler waves and filamentary-like Weibel instabilities. Electron velocity distributions taken after the system has reached a steady state show that these instabilities inhibit the heat flux and drive the total distributions toward isotropy. Electron trajectories in velocity space show a circular-like diffusion along constant energy surfaces in the wave frame. The key parameter controlling the scattering rate is the average speed, or drift speedvd, of the heat flux compared with the electron Alfvén speedvAe, with higher drift speeds producing stronger fluctuations and a more significant reduction of the heat flux. Reducing the density of the electrons carrying the heat flux by 50% does not significantly affect the scattering rate. A scaling law for the electron scattering rate versusvd/vAeis deduced from the simulations. The implications of these results for understanding energetic electron transport during energy release in solar flares are discussed.

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  4. Abstract The fast solar wind that fills the heliosphere originates from deep within regions of open magnetic field on the Sun called ‘coronal holes’. The energy source responsible for accelerating the plasma is widely debated; however, there is evidence that it is ultimately magnetic in nature, with candidate mechanisms including wave heating 1,2 and interchange reconnection 3–5 . The coronal magnetic field near the solar surface is structured on scales associated with ‘supergranulation’ convection cells, whereby descending flows create intense fields. The energy density in these ‘network’ magnetic field bundles is a candidate energy source for the wind. Here we report measurements of fast solar wind streams from the Parker Solar Probe (PSP) spacecraft 6 that provide strong evidence for the interchange reconnection mechanism. We show that the supergranulation structure at the coronal base remains imprinted in the near-Sun solar wind, resulting in asymmetric patches of magnetic ‘switchbacks’ 7,8 and bursty wind streams with power-law-like energetic ion spectra to beyond 100 keV. Computer simulations of interchange reconnection support key features of the observations, including the ion spectra. Important characteristics of interchange reconnection in the low corona are inferred from the data, including that the reconnection is collisionless and that the energy release rate is sufficient to power the fast wind. In this scenario, magnetic reconnection is continuous and the wind is driven by both the resulting plasma pressure and the radial Alfvénic flow bursts. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 8, 2024
  5. null (Ed.)
  6. Abstract

    The formation, development, and impact of slow shocks in the upstream regions of reconnecting current layers are explored. Slow shocks have been documented in the upstream regions of magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulations of magnetic reconnection as well as in similar simulations with thekglobalkinetic macroscale simulation model. They are therefore a candidate mechanism for preheating the plasma that is injected into the current layers that facilitate magnetic energy release in solar flares. Of particular interest is their potential role in producing the hot thermal component of electrons in flares. During multi-island reconnection, the formation and merging of flux ropes in the reconnecting current layer drives plasma flows and pressure disturbances in the upstream region. These pressure disturbances steepen into slow shocks that propagate along the reconnecting component of the magnetic field and satisfy the expected Rankine–Hugoniot jump conditions. Plasma heating arises from both compression across the shock and the parallel electric field that develops to maintain charge neutrality in a kinetic system. Shocks are weaker at lower plasmaβ, where shock steepening is slow. While these upstream slow shocks are intrinsic to the dynamics of multi-island reconnection, their contribution to electron heating remains relatively minor compared with that from Fermi reflection and the parallel electric fields that bound the reconnection outflow.

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  7. Abstract Transport equations for electron thermal energy in the high- β e intracluster medium (ICM) are developed that include scattering from both classical collisions and self-generated whistler waves. The calculation employs an expansion of the kinetic electron equation along the ambient magnetic field in the limit of strong scattering and assumes whistler waves with low phase speeds V w ∼ v te / β e ≪ v te dominate the turbulent spectrum, with v te the electron thermal speed and β e ≫ 1 the ratio of electron thermal to magnetic pressure. We find: (1) temperature-gradient-driven whistlers dominate classical scattering when L c > L / β e , with L c the classical electron mean free path and L the electron temperature scale length, and (2) in the whistler-dominated regime the electron thermal flux is controlled by both advection at V w and a comparable diffusive term. The findings suggest whistlers limit electron heat flux over large regions of the ICM, including locations unstable to isobaric condensation. Consequences include: (1) the Field length decreases, extending the domain of thermal instability to smaller length scales, (2) the heat flux temperature dependence changes from T e 7 / 2 / L to V w nT e ∼ T e 1 / 2 , (3) the magneto-thermal- and heat-flux-driven buoyancy instabilities are impaired or completely inhibited, and (4) sound waves in the ICM propagate greater distances, as inferred from observations. This description of thermal transport can be used in macroscale ICM models. 
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  8. Abstract

    We analyze the structure and evolution of ribbons from the M7.3 SOL2014-04-18T13 flare using ultraviolet images from the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph and the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO)/Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA), magnetic data from the SDO/Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager, hard X-ray (HXR) images from the Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager, and light curves from the Fermi/Gamma-ray Burst Monitor, in order to infer properties of coronal magnetic reconnection. As the event progresses, two flare ribbons spread away from the magnetic polarity inversion line. The width of the newly brightened front along the extension of the ribbon is highly intermittent in both space and time, presumably reflecting nonuniformities in the structure and/or dynamics of the flare current sheet. Furthermore, the ribbon width grows most rapidly in regions exhibiting concentrated nonthermal HXR emission, with sharp increases slightly preceding the HXR bursts. The light curve of the ultraviolet emission matches the HXR light curve at photon energies above 25 keV. In other regions the ribbon-width evolution and light curves do not temporally correlate with the HXR emission. This indicates that the production of nonthermal electrons is highly nonuniform within the flare current sheet. Our results suggest a strong connection between the production of nonthermal electrons and the locally enhanced perpendicular extent of flare ribbon fronts, which in turn reflects the inhomogeneous structure and/or reconnection dynamics of the current sheet. Despite this variability, the ribbon fronts remain nearly continuous, quasi-one-dimensional features. Thus, although the reconnecting coronal current sheets are highly structured, they remain quasi-two-dimensional and the magnetic energy release occurs systematically, rather than stochastically, through the volume of the reconnecting magnetic flux.

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  9. Abstract A major discovery of Parker Solar Probe (PSP) was the presence of large numbers of localized increases in the radial solar wind speed and associated sharp deflections of the magnetic field—switchbacks (SBs). A possible generation mechanism of SBs is through magnetic reconnection between open and closed magnetic flux near the solar surface, termed interchange reconnection, that leads to the ejection of flux ropes (FRs) into the solar wind. Observations also suggest that SBs undergo merging, consistent with an FR picture of these structures. The role of FR merging in controlling the structure of SBs in the solar wind is explored through direct observations, analytic analysis, and numerical simulations. Analytic analysis reveals key features of the structure of FRs and their scaling with heliocentric distance R, which are consistent with observations and demonstrate the critical role of merging in controlling the structure of SBs. FR merging is shown to energetically favor reductions in the strength of the wrapping magnetic field and the elongation of SBs. A further consequence is the resulting dominance of the axial magnetic field within SBs that leads to the observed characteristic sharp rotation of the magnetic field into the axial direction at the SB boundary. Finally, the radial scaling of the SB area in the FR model suggests that the observational probability of SB identification should be insensitive to R , which is consistent with the most recent statistical analysis of SB observations from PSP. 
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