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  1. 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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    Ion beam-driven instabilities in a collisionless space plasma with low β, i.e. low plasma and magnetic pressure ratio, are investigated using particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations. Specifically, the effects of different ion drift velocities on the development of Buneman and resonant electromagnetic (EM) right-handed (RH) ion beam instabilities are studied. Our simulations reveal that both instabilities can be driven when the ion beam drift exceeds the theoretical thresholds. The Buneman instability, which is weakly triggered initially, dissipates only a small fraction of the kinetic energy of the ion beam while causing significant electron heating, owing to the small electron-ion mass ratio. However, we find that the ion beam-driven Buneman instability is quenched effectively by the resonant EM RH ion beam instability. Instead, the resonant EM RH ion beam instability dominates when the ion drift velocity is larger than the Alfvén speed, leading to the generation of RH Alfvén waves and RH whistler waves. We find that the intensity of Alfvén waves decreases with decrease of ion beam drift velocity, while the intensity of whistler waves increases. Our results provide new insights into the complex interplay between ion beams and plasma instabilities in low β collisionless space plasmas.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 29, 2024
  3. Abstract

    The total energy transfer from the solar wind to the magnetosphere is governed by the reconnection rate at the magnetosphere edges as the Z‐component of interplanetary magnetic field (IMFBz) turns southward. The geomagnetic storm on 21–22 January 2005 is considered to be anomalous as the SYM‐H index that signifies the strength of ring current, decreases and had a sustained trough value of −101 nT lasting more than 6 hr under northward IMFBzconditions. In this work, the standard WINDMI model is utilized to estimate the growth and decay of magnetospheric currents by using several solar wind‐magnetosphere coupling functions. However, it is found that the WINDMI model driven by any of these coupling functions is not fully able to explain the decrease of SYM‐H under northward IMFBz. A dense plasma sheet along with signatures of a highly stretched magnetosphere was observed during this storm. The SYM‐H variations during the entire duration of the storm were only reproduced after modifying the WINDMI model to account for the effects of the dense plasma sheet. The limitations of directly driven models relying purely on the solar wind parameters and not accounting for the state of the magnetosphere are highlighted by this work.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2024
  4. Abstract

    Pickup ions (PUIs) play a crucial role in the heliosphere, contributing to the mediation of large-scale structures such as the distant solar wind, the heliospheric termination shock, and the heliopause. While magnetic reconnection is thought to be a common process in the heliosphere due to the presence of heliospheric current sheets, it is poorly understood how PUIs might affect the evolution of magnetic reconnection. Although it is reasonable to suppose that PUIs decrease the reconnection rate since the plasma beta becomes much larger than 1 when PUIs are included, we show for the first time that such a supposition is invalid and that PUI-induced turbulence, heat conduction, and viscosity can preferentially boost magnetic reconnection in heliospheric current sheets in the distant solar wind. This suggests that it is critical to include the effect of the turbulence, heat conduction, and viscosity caused by PUIs to understand the dynamics of magnetic reconnection in the outer heliosphere.

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  5. Abstract

    Small-amplitude fluctuations in the magnetized solar wind are measured typically by a single spacecraft. In the magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) description, fluctuations are typically expressed in terms of the fundamental modes admitted by the system. An important question is how to resolve an observed set of fluctuations, typically plasma moments such as the density, velocity, pressure, and magnetic field fluctuations, into their constituent fundamental MHD modal components. Despite its importance in understanding the basic elements of waves and turbulence in the solar wind, this problem has not yet been fully resolved. Here, we introduce a new method that identifies between wave modes and advected structures such as magnetic islands or entropy modes and computes the phase information associated with the eligible MHD modes. The mode-decomposition method developed here identifies the admissible modes in an MHD plasma from a set of plasma and magnetic field fluctuations measured by a single spacecraft at a specific frequency and an inferred wavenumberkm. We present data from three typical intervals measured by the Wind and Solar Orbiter spacecraft at ∼1 au and show how the new method identifies both propagating (wave) and nonpropagating (structures) modes, including entropy and magnetic island modes. This allows us to identify and characterize the separate MHD modes in an observed plasma parcel and to derive wavenumber spectra of entropic density, fast and slow magnetosonic, Alfvénic, and magnetic island fluctuations for the first time. These results help identify the fundamental building blocks of turbulence in the magnetized solar wind.

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  6. Abstract

    We have performed hybrid kinetic-fluid simulations of a positive column in alternating current (AC) argon discharges over a range of driving frequenciesfand gas pressurepfor the conditions when the spatial nonlocality of the electron energy distribution function (EEDF) is substantial. Our simulations confirmed that the most efficient conditions of plasma maintenance are observed in the dynamic regime when time modulations of mean electron energy (temperature) are substantial. The minimal values of the root mean square electric field and the electron temperature have been observed atf/pvalues of about 3 kHz Torr−1in a tube of radiusR= 1 cm. The ionization rate and plasma density reached maximal values under these conditions. The numerical solution of a kinetic equation allowed accounting for the kinetic effects associated with spatial and temporal nonlocality of the EEDF. Using thekineticenergy of electrons as an independent variable, we solved an anisotropic tensor diffusion equation in phase space. We clarified the role of different flux components during electron diffusion in phase space over surfaces of constanttotalenergy. We have shown that the kinetic theory uncovers a more exciting and rich physics than the classical ambipolar diffusion (Schottky) model. Non-monotonic radial distributions of excitation rates, metastable densities, and plasma density have been observed in our simulations atpR >6 Torr cm. The predicted off-axis plasma density peak in the dynamic regime has never been observed in experiments so far. We hope our results stimulate further experimental studies of the AC positive column. The kinetic analysis could help uncover new physics even for such a well-known plasma object as a positive column in noble gases.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  7. Abstract

    The transport of waves and turbulence beyond the photosphere is central to the coronal heating problem. Turbulence in the quiet solar corona has been modeled on the basis of the nearly incompressible magnetohydrodynamic (NI MHD) theory to describe the transport of low-frequency turbulence in open magnetic field regions. It describes the evolution of the coupled majority quasi-2D and minority slab component, driven by the magnetic carpet and advected by a subsonic, sub-Alfvénic flow from the lower corona. In this paper, we couple the NI MHD turbulence transport model with an MHD model of the solar corona to study the heating problem in a coronal loop. In a realistic benchmark coronal loop problem, we find that a loop can be heated to ∼1.5 million K by transport and dissipation of MHD turbulence described by the NI MHD model. We also find that the majority 2D component is as important as the minority slab component in the heating of the coronal loop. We compare our coupled MHD/NI MHD model results with a reduced MHD (RMHD) model. An important distinction between these models is that RMHD solves for small-scale velocity and magnetic field fluctuations and obtains the actual viscous/resistive dissipation associated with their evolution whereas NI MHD evolves scalar moments of the fluctuating velocity and magnetic fields and approximates dissipation using an MHD turbulence phenomenology. Despite the basic differences between the models, their simulation results match remarkably well, yielding almost identical heating rates inside the corona.

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  8. 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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  9. Abstract

    A steady-state, semi-analytical model of energetic particle acceleration in radio-jet shear flows due to cosmic-ray viscosity obtained by Webb et al. is generalized to take into account more general cosmic-ray boundary spectra. This involves solving a mixed Dirichlet–Von Neumann boundary value problem at the edge of the jet. The energetic particle distribution functionf0(r,p) at cylindrical radiusrfrom the jet axis (assumed to lie along thez-axis) is given by convolving the particle momentum spectrumf0(,p)with the Green’s functionG(r,p;p), which describes the monoenergetic spectrum solution in whichf0δ(pp)asr→ ∞ . Previous work by Webb et al. studied only the Green’s function solution forG(r,p;p). In this paper, we explore for the first time, solutions for more general and realistic forms forf0(,p). The flow velocityu=u(r)ezis along the axis of the jet (thez-axis).uis independent ofz, andu(r) is a monotonic decreasing function ofr. The scattering timeτ(r,p)=τ0(p/p0)αin the shear flow region 0 <r<r2, andτ(r,p)=τ0(p/p0)α(r/r2)s, wheres> 0 in the regionr>r2is outside the jet. Other original aspects of the analysis are (i) the use of cosmic ray flow lines in (r,p) space to clarify the particle spatial transport and momentum changes and (ii) the determination of the probability distributionψp(r,p;p)that particles observed at (r,p) originated fromr→ ∞ with momentump. The acceleration of ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays in active galactic nuclei jet sources is discussed. Leaky box models for electron acceleration are described.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 22, 2024
  10. Abstract

    It has been suggested before that small-scale magnetic flux rope (SMFR) structures in the solar wind can temporarily trap energetic charged particles. We present the derivation of a new fractional Parker equation for energetic-particle interaction with SMFRs from our pitch-angle-dependent fractional diffusion-advection equation that can account for such trapping effects. The latter was derived previously in le Roux & Zank from the first principles starting with the standard focused transport equation. The new equation features anomalous advection and diffusion terms. It suggests that energetic-particle parallel transport occurs with a decaying efficiency of advection effects as parallel superdiffusion becomes more dominant at late times. Parallel superdiffusion can be linked back to underlying anomalous pitch-angle transport, which might be subdiffusive during interaction with quasi-helical coherent SMFRs. We apply the new equation to time-dependent superdiffusive shock acceleration at a parallel shock. The results show that the superdiffusive-shock-acceleration timescale is fractional, the net fractional differential particle flux is conserved across the shock ignoring particle injection at the shock, and the accelerated particle spectrum at the shock converges to the familiar power-law spectrum predicted by standard steady-state diffusive-shock-acceleration theory at late times. Upstream, as parallel superdiffusion progressively dominates the advection of energetic particles, their spatial distributions decay on spatial scales that grow with time. Furthermore, superdiffusive parallel shock acceleration is found to be less efficient if parallel anomalous diffusion is more superdiffusive, while perpendicular particle escape from the shock, thought to be subdiffusive during SMFR interaction, is reduced when increasingly subdiffusive.

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