Modelling Solar Energetic Particle transport near a wavy Heliospheric Current Sheet [CL]

Understanding the transport of Solar Energetic Particles (SEPs) from acceleration sites at the Sun into interplanetary space and to the Earth is an important question for forecasting space weather. The Interplanetary Magnetic Field (IMF), with two distinct polarities and a complex structure, governs energetic particle transport and drifts.
We analyse for the first time the effect of a wavy Heliospheric Current Sheet (HCS) on the propagation of SEPs. We inject protons close to the Sun and propagate them by integrating fully 3D trajectories within the inner heliosphere in the presence of weak scattering. We model the HCS position using fits based on neutral lines of magnetic field source surface maps (SSMs).
We map 1 au proton crossings, which show efficient transport in longitude via HCS, depending on the location of the injection region with respect to the HCS. For HCS tilt angles around $30^\circ-40^\circ$, we find significant qualitative differences between A+ and A$-$ configurations of the IMF, with stronger fluences along the HCS in the former case but with a distribution of particles across a wider range of longitudes and latitudes in the latter.
We show how a wavy current sheet leads to longitudinally periodic enhancements in particle fluence. We show that for an A+ IMF configuration, a wavy HCS allows for more proton deceleration than a flat HCS. We find that A$-$ IMF configurations result in larger average fluences than A+ IMF configurations, due to a radial drift component at the current sheet.

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M. Battarbee, S. Dalla and M. Marsh
Tue, 12 Dec 17

Comments: 16 pages, 8 figures and 1 table, plus appendix of 2 pages, 1 figure and 1 table

Astrophysical gyrokinetics: Turbulence in pressure-anisotropic plasmas at ion scales and beyond [HEAP]

We present a theoretical framework for describing electromagnetic kinetic turbulence in a multi-species, magnetized, pressure-anisotropic plasma. Turbulent fluctuations are assumed to be small compared to the mean field, to be spatially anisotropic with respect to it, and to have frequencies small compared to the ion cyclotron frequency. At scales above the ion Larmor radius, the theory reduces to the pressure-anisotropic generalization of kinetic reduced magnetohydrodynamics (KRMHD) formulated by Kunz et al. (2015). At scales at and below the ion Larmor radius, three main objectives are achieved. First, we analyse the linear response of the pressure-anisotropic gyrokinetic system, and show it to be a generalisation of previously explored limits. The effects of pressure anisotropy on the stability and collisionless damping of Alfvenic and compressive fluctuations are highlighted, with attention paid to the spectral location and width of the frequency jump that occurs as Alfven waves transition into kinetic Alfven waves. Secondly, we derive and discuss a general free-energy conservation law, which captures both the KRMHD free-energy conservation at long wavelengths and dual cascades of kinetic Alfven waves and ion entropy at sub-ion-Larmor scales. We show that non-Maxwellian features in the distribution function change the amount of phase mixing and the efficiency of magnetic stresses, and thus influence the partitioning of free energy amongst the cascade channels. Thirdly, a simple model is used to show that pressure anisotropy can cause large variations in the ion-to-electron heating ratio due to the dissipation of Alfvenic turbulence. Our theory provides a foundation for determining how pressure anisotropy affects the turbulent fluctuation spectra, the differential heating of particle species, and the ratio of parallel and perpendicular phase mixing in space and astrophysical plasmas.

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M. Kunz, I. Abel, K. Klein, et. al.
Thu, 7 Dec 17

Comments: 56 pages, 5 figures, submitted to Journal of Plasma Physics (submitted 28 Nov 2017); abstract abridged

Automated identification of coronal holes from synoptic EUV maps [CL]

Coronal holes (CH) are regions of open magnetic field lines in the solar corona and the source of fast solar wind. Understanding the evolution of coronal holes is critical for solar magnetism as well as for accurate space weather forecasts. We study here the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) synoptic maps at three wavelengths (195A/193A, 171A and 304A) measured by Solar and Heliospheric Observatory/Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (SOHO/EIT) and Solar Dynamics Observatory/Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (SDO/AIA) instruments. The two datasets are first homogenized by scaling the SDO/AIA data to the SOHO/EIT level by means of histogram equalization. We then develop a novel automated method to identify CHs from these homogenized maps by determining the intensity threshold of CH regions separately for each synoptic map. This is done by identifying the best location and size of an image segment, which optimally contains portions of coronal holes and the surrounding quiet Sun allowing us to detect the momentary intensity threshold. Our method is thus able to adjust itself to the changing scale size of coronal holes and to temporally varying intensities. To make full use of the information in the three wavelengths we construct, a composite CH distribution, which is more robust than distributions based on one wavelength. Using the composite CH dataset we discuss the temporal evolution of CHs during the solar cycles 23 and 24.

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A. Hamada, T. Asikainen, I. Virtanen, et. al.
Wed, 6 Dec 17

Comments: N/A

The antenna phase center motion effect in space-based experiments for fundamental physics and astronomy [IMA]

We consider the effect of phase center motion of mechanically steerable high-gain parabolic antennas for ground-based and spacecraft-mounted antennas. For spacecrafts on highly elliptic Earth orbits the magnitude of the effect is as large as several mm/s in terms of the required velocity correction, both for ground-based and spacecraft-mounted antennas. We illustrate this with real data from the RadioAstron spacecraft and also provide results of our simulations for the concept of a possible follow-up space very long baseline radio astronomy mission. We also consider a specific configuration of satellite communication links, with simultaneously operating one-way down link and two-way loop link, pioneered by the Gravity Probe A experiment. We find that this configuration provides for complete compensation of the phase center motion effect due to the onboard antenna and significant compensation of that due to the ground antenna. This result is important for future space-based fundamental physics experiments, primarily those concerned with studies of gravity.

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A. Filetkin, D. Litvinov, V. Rudenko, et. al.
Tue, 5 Dec 17

Comments: N/A

The downwind hemisphere of the heliosphere: Eight years of IBEX-Lo observations [SSA]

We present a comprehensive study of energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) of 10 eV to 2.5 keV from the downwind hemisphere of the heliosphere. These ENAs are believed to originate mostly from pickup protons and solar wind protons in the inner heliosheath. This study includes all low-energy observations made with the Interstellar Boundary Explorer over the first 8 years. Since the protons around 0.1 keV dominate the plasma pressure in the inner heliosheath in downwind direction, these ENA observations offer the unique opportunity to constrain the plasma properties and dimensions of the heliosheath where no in-situ observations are available.
We first derive energy spectra of ENA intensities averaged over time for 49 macropixels covering the entire downwind hemisphere. The results confirm previous studies regarding integral intensities and the roll-over around 0.1 keV energy. With the expanded dataset we now find that ENA intensities at 0.2 and 0.1 keV seem to anti-correlate with solar activity. We then derive the product of total plasma pressure and emission thickness of protons in the heliosheath to estimate lower limits on the thickness of the inner heliosheath. The temporally averaged ENA intensities support a rather spherical shape of the termination shock and a heliosheath thickness between 150 and 210 au for most regions of the downwind hemisphere. Around the nominal downwind direction of 76{\deg} ecliptic longitude, the heliosheath is at least 280 au thick. There, the neutral hydrogen density seems to be depleted compared to upwind directions by roughly a factor of 2.

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A. Galli, P. Wurz, N. Schwadron, et. al.
Tue, 5 Dec 17

Comments: Preprint of article in The Astrophysical Journal

Simulating the Coronal Evolution of AR 11437 using SDO/HMI Magnetograms [SSA]

The coronal magnetic field evolution of AR 11437 is simulated by applying the magnetofrictional relaxation technique of Mackay et al. (2011). A sequence of photospheric line-of-sight magnetograms produced by SDO/HMI are used to drive the simulation and continuously evolve the coronal magnetic field of the active region through a series of non-linear force-free equilibria. The simulation is started during the first stages of the active region emergence so that its full evolution from emergence to decay can be simulated. A comparison of the simulation results with SDO/AIA observations show that many aspects of the active region’s observed coronal evolution are reproduced. In particular, it shows the presence of a flux rope, which forms at the same location as sheared coronal loops in the observations. The observations show that eruptions occur on 2012 March 17 at 05:09 UT and 10:45 UT and on 2012 March 20 at 14:31 UT. The simulation reproduces the first and third eruption, with the simulated flux rope erupting roughly 1 and 10 hours before the observed ejections, respectively. A parameter study is conducted where the boundary and initial conditions are varied along with the physical effects of Ohmic diffusion, hyperdiffusion and an additional injection of helicity. When comparing the simulations, the evolution of the magnetic field, free magnetic energy, relative helicity and flux rope eruption timings do not change significantly. This indicates that the key element in reproducing the coronal evolution of AR 11437 is the use of line-of-sight magnetograms to drive the evolution of the coronal magnetic field.

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S. Yardley, D. Mackay and L. Green
Mon, 4 Dec 17

Comments: 18 pages, 13 figures, accepted in ApJ

Ensemble Prediction of a Halo Coronal Mass Ejection Using Heliospheric Imagers [SSA]

The Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) and its heliospheric imagers (HI) have provided us the possibility to enhance our understanding of the interplanetary propagation of coronal mass ejections (CMEs). HI-based methods are able to forecast arrival times and speeds at any target and use the advantage of tracing a CME’s path of propagation up to 1 AU. In our study we use the ELEvoHI model for CME arrival prediction together with an ensemble approach to derive uncertainties in the modeled arrival time and impact speed. The CME from 3 November 2010 is analyzed by performing 339 model runs that are compared to in situ measurements from lined-up spacecraft MESSENGER and STEREO-B. Remote data from STEREO-B showed the CME as halo event, which is comparable to an HI observer situated at L1 and observing an Earth-directed CME. A promising and easy approach is found by using the frequency distributions of four ELEvoHI output parameters, drag parameter, background solar wind speed, initial distance and speed. In this case study, the most frequent values of these outputs lead to the predictions with the smallest errors. Restricting the ensemble to those runs, we are able to reduce the mean absolute arrival time error from $3.5 \pm 2.6$ h to $1.6 \pm 1.1$ h at 1 AU. Our study suggests that L1 may provide a sufficient vantage point for an Earth-directed CME, when observed by HI, and that ensemble modeling could be a feasible approach to use ELEvoHI operationally.

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T. Amerstorfer, C. Mostl, P. Hess, et. al.
Mon, 4 Dec 17

Comments: submitted to Space Weather