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Radial Evolution of Sunward Strahl Electrons in the Inner Heliosphere

Macneil, AR; Owens, MJ; Lockwood, M; Štverák, Š; Owen, CJ; (2020) Radial Evolution of Sunward Strahl Electrons in the Inner Heliosphere. Solar Physics , 295 (2) , Article 16. 10.1007/s11207-019-1579-3. Green open access

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The heliospheric magnetic field (HMF) exhibits local inversions, in which the field apparently “bends back” upon itself. Candidate mechanisms to produce these inversions include various configurations of upstream interchange reconnection; either in the heliosphere, or in the corona where the solar wind is formed. Explaining the source of these inversions, and how they evolve in time and space, is thus an important step towards explaining the origins of the solar wind. Inverted heliospheric magnetic field lines can be identified by the anomalous sunward (i.e. inward) streaming of the typically anti-sunward propagating, field-aligned (or anti-aligned), beam of electrons known as the “strahl”. We test if the pitch angle distribution (PAD) properties of sunward-propagating strahl are different from those of outward strahl. We perform a statistical study of strahl observed by the Helios spacecraft, over heliocentric distances spanning ≈0.3 – 1 AU. We find that sunward strahl PADs are broader and less intense than their outward directed counterparts; particularly at distances 0.3 – 0.75 AU. This is consistent with sunward strahl being subject to additional, path-length dependent, scattering in comparison to outward strahl. We conclude that the longer and more variable path from the Sun to the spacecraft, along inverted magnetic field, leads to this additional scattering. The results also suggest that the relative importance of scattering along this additional path length drops off with heliocentric distance. These results can be explained by a relatively simple, constant-rate, scattering process.

Type: Article
Title: Radial Evolution of Sunward Strahl Electrons in the Inner Heliosphere
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s11207-019-1579-3
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11207-019-1579-3
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Magnetic fields interplanetary, Magnetic reconnection, observational signatures, Solar wind
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Space and Climate Physics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10093119
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