Analysis of the Heliosphere During Major Solar Energetic Particle Events of the 23rd Solar cycle

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Title: Analysis of the Heliosphere During Major Solar Energetic Particle Events of the 23rd Solar cycle
Author: Talew, Eyob
Contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Matemaattis-luonnontieteellinen tiedekunta, Fysiikan laitos
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Abstract: Solar Energetic particle (SEP) events are sudden and temporary increases in the cosmic ray fluxes which are related to solar flares or interplanetary shocks originating from the Sun. Solar energetic particle transport modelling requires a systematic understanding of the properties of the heliosphere. In the current modelling of particle transport in the heliosphere, it is assumed that the interplanetary medium has a steady-state solar wind and that the magnetic field in the heliosphere follows a Parker spiral. The presence of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) or interplanetary coronal mass ejections (ICMEs) in the heliosphere could cause interference with the solar wind and the magnetic field in the heliosphere. In this project we analyse two heliospheric modelling tools, called ENLIL and ENLIL-with-cone models, to see how accurately they could describe the heliosphere in the presence of Coronal mass ejections. To realize this goal we investigated the SEP events of the 23rd solar cycle. At first we investigated 114 SEP events recorded in this cycle for their relationships with CMEs and ICMEs. First, we investigated whether the SEP events could be related to ICME using time-window analysis and the position of the ICME when the SEP event was recorded. Using this process we identified 43 SEP events that are ICME-clean (not related to any ICME according to the two criteria we set). We then modelled the ICME-clean events using ENLIL modelling. We further analysed the ICME-clean events if they have any relation to CMEs. We narrowed our search only to SEP events that have three or less CME that could be associated with them. We then produced a plot for these SEP events to further study the relation between the SEP and the CMEs. We singled out the SEP event that was recorded on May 9, 1999 as a perfect candidate to be further analysed using ENLIL-with-cone model. This event is chosen because it is associated with a fast northward CME that expands into the western hemisphere and could possibly have accelerated the SEP towards Earth. When analysed with ENLIL-with-cone model, we found out that the CME interfered with the magnetic field lines that are directed towards Earth, thus providing a likely origin for the observed SEP event at 1AU. Though the contact between the CME and the Earthward field lines was very brief, it disrupted the Parker spiral structure of the magnetic field lines. From the statistical analysis of the ICMEs and CMEs during the large SEP events of the 23rd solar cycle, we deduced that the two assumptions used in the modelling of heliospheric SEP transport (steady-state solar wind and Parker spiral structure of the magnetic field) could not be made in typical cases. However, more advanced descriptions of the heliospheric field like ENLIL-with-cone could be utilized for modelling instead. From this project we concluded that a future heliospheric modelling tools need to encompass more factors than the two assumptions discussed above.
Date: 2015-06-09
Discipline: Space Sciences

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