Modeling interstellar pickup ion distributions in corotating interaction regions inside 1 AU

Academic Article


  • AbstractWe present a modeling study of interstellar pickup ion (PUI) distributions in corotating interaction regions (CIRs). We consider gradual compressions associated with CIRs formed when fast speed streams overtake slower streams in the inner heliosphere. For the analysis, we adopt a simplified magnetohydrodynamic model of a CIR. The Energetic Particle Radiation Environment Module, a parallelized particle numerical kinetic code, is used to model PUI distributions using the focused transport equation, including adiabatic cooling/heating, adiabatic focusing, and parallel and perpendicular diffusion. The continuous injection of PUIs is handled as a source term with a ring distribution in velocity space that is produced from the local neutral density obtained from a hot model of the interstellar neutral gas. The simulated distributions exhibit a harder spectrum in the compression region and a softer spectrum in the rarefaction region than that in undisturbed solar wind. As an additional result, a v−5 power law tail distribution above the PUI cutoff speed (a knee in the distribution) emerges for a particular velocity gradient in the CIR. The tail above the PUI cutoff is sensitive to the CIR velocity gradient, and in one observational case studied, this relationship adequately explains the observed spectrum from 2 to 4 times the solar wind speed. This suggests that the velocity gradient associated with the CIR formation can efficiently create a seed population of PUIs before a shock forms even without stochastic acceleration. Thus, local CIR compressions without shocks may play a significant role in the acceleration process as suggested previously.
  • Authors

  • Chen, JH
  • Schwadron, Nathan
  • Moebius, E
  • Gorby, M
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • November 2015
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 9269
  • End Page

  • 9280
  • Volume

  • 120
  • Issue

  • 11