skip to main content

Title: Particle acceleration via reconnection processes in the supersonic solar wind

An emerging paradigm for the dissipation of magnetic turbulence in the supersonic solar wind is via localized small-scale reconnection processes, essentially between quasi-2D interacting magnetic islands. Charged particles trapped in merging magnetic islands can be accelerated by the electric field generated by magnetic island merging and the contraction of magnetic islands. We derive a gyrophase-averaged transport equation for particles experiencing pitch-angle scattering and energization in a super-Alfvénic flowing plasma experiencing multiple small-scale reconnection events. A simpler advection-diffusion transport equation for a nearly isotropic particle distribution is derived. The dominant charged particle energization processes are (1) the electric field induced by quasi-2D magnetic island merging and (2) magnetic island contraction. The magnetic island topology ensures that charged particles are trapped in regions where they experience repeated interactions with the induced electric field or contracting magnetic islands. Steady-state solutions of the isotropic transport equation with only the induced electric field and a fixed source yield a power-law spectrum for the accelerated particles with index α = –(3 + M{sub A} )/2, where M{sub A} is the Alfvén Mach number. Considering only magnetic island contraction yields power-law-like solutions with index –3(1 + τ {sub c}/(8τ{sub diff})), where τ {sub c}/τ{sub diff} is themore » ratio of timescales between magnetic island contraction and charged particle diffusion. The general solution is a power-law-like solution with an index that depends on the Alfvén Mach number and the timescale ratio τ{sub diff}/τ {sub c}. Observed power-law distributions of energetic particles observed in the quiet supersonic solar wind at 1 AU may be a consequence of particle acceleration associated with dissipative small-scale reconnection processes in a turbulent plasma, including the widely reported c {sup –5} (c particle speed) spectra observed by Fisk and Gloeckler and Mewaldt et al.« less
Authors:
; ; ;  [1] ;  [2]
  1. Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research (CSPAR), University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, AL 35805 (United States)
  2. Heliophysical Laboratory, Institute of Terrestrial Magnetism, Ionosphere and Radiowave Propagation RAS (IZMIRAN), Troitsk, Moscow 142190 (Russian Federation)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22370078
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 797; Journal Issue: 1; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ACCELERATION; ADVECTION; ALFVEN WAVES; CHARGED PARTICLES; DIFFUSION; DISTRIBUTION; ELECTRIC FIELDS; INCLINATION; MACH NUMBER; MAGNETIC ISLANDS; MAGNETIC RECONNECTION; PLASMA; SCATTERING; SOLAR WIND; SPECTRA; STEADY-STATE CONDITIONS; TRANSPORT THEORY; TURBULENCE