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Author Fisk, L. A. ♦ Gloeckler, G. ♦ Schwadron, N. A.
Source United States Department of Energy Office of Scientific and Technical Information
Content type Text
Language English
Subject Keyword CLASSICAL AND QUANTUM MECHANICS, GENERAL PHYSICS ♦ ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY ♦ DISTRIBUTION FUNCTIONS ♦ PLASMA ♦ SOLAR WIND ♦ STOCHASTIC PROCESSES ♦ TURBULENCE ♦ FUNCTIONS ♦ SOLAR ACTIVITY ♦ STELLAR ACTIVITY ♦ STELLAR WINDS
Abstract The suprathermal tails on the distribution functions of ions in the solar wind are observed to have a common spectral shape in many different circumstances: a power law in particle speed with spectral index of -5. Three possible approaches for explaining these observations are considered: (1) the acceleration mechanism of Fisk and Gloeckler in which energy is redistributed from a core particle population into the suprathermal tail; (2) traditional stochastic acceleration in which particles are accelerated by damping turbulence; and (3) the statistical approach introduced by Schwadron et al. in which the -5 spectrum is formed by averaging over individual spectra. The acceleration mechanism of Fisk and Gloeckler has advantages: (1) it appears to occur in conditions that are readily satisfied: compressive turbulence that is thermally isolated (no large-scale spatial gradients), with a core distribution of particles with a sharp initial cutoff in particle speed, above which particles can spatially diffuse; and (2) it yields spectra that are consistent with observations. Traditional stochastic acceleration has the disadvantage that it is unlikely to yield spectral shapes consistent with observations, and the spectra are dependent upon the plasma conditions and thus unlikely to be the same in different circumstances. The statistical approach of Schwadron et al. can yield the -5 spectrum and is consistent with the results of Fisk and Gloeckler when the assumed distribution functions for individual events and the averaging technique are taken to be compatible with the assumptions and averaging in Fisk and Gloeckler.
ISSN 0004637X
Educational Use Research
Learning Resource Type Article
Publisher Date 2010-09-01
Publisher Place United States
Journal Astrophysical Journal
Volume Number 720
Issue Number 1


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