Coronal shock acceleration and heliospheric transport of solar energetic protons
Kozarev, Kamen Asenov
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Solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CME) in the Sun's atmosphere produce highly energetic charged particles during violent bursts of activity. Protons, the most numerous and important species of these solar energetic particles (SEP), accelerate and propagate throughout the heliosphere, probing the interplanetary transport conditions. They also present a significant radiation hazard to space operations. Nevertheless, SEP acceleration in the low corona is currently not well constrained and poorly understood. In this dissertation, I examine off-limb extreme ultraviolet (EUV) wave dynamics between 1.3 and 2.0 solar radii in the corona, and I show that the EUV signatures are consistent with CME-driven shocks. Therefore, such shocks may form very low in the corona. I also develop a data-driven model for estimating the maximum energy to which protons may be accelerated in coronal shocks. I apply it to an observed shock and show that it may accelerate protons up to tens of MeV during its fast coronal passage, consistent with in-situ observations. To explore further coronal SEP acceleration by CME-driven shocks, I modify a global, 3D numerical model for interplanetary SEP transport for the coronal conditions, and adapt it to incorporate results from a realistic magnetohydrodynamic coronal and CME model. Furthermore, I apply a diffusive shock acceleration model, which explicitly treats proton energization at traveling shocks, to an MHD simulation of a real CME event. I find that the source population becomes strongly accelerated. In addition, I simulate the proton transport between the Sun and Earth, and find that the modeled fluxes are consistent with particle observations near Earth. Results suggest that CME-driven shocks in the corona may be the primary source of SEPs in solar storms. In addition, conditions along coronal shock fronts vary greatly, influencing the amount of acceleration. Finally, I model the global proton transport between Earth and 5 AU during a very large SEP event. I obtain radial gradients of peak fluxes and radiation doses for space weather applications, and I find that simulated and observed fluxes agree reasonably well. This suggests that most CME shocks are not efficient proton accelerators beyond 1 AU.
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