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Statistics of Solar Wind Electron Breakpoint Energies Using Machine Learning Techniques

Bakrania, MR; Rae, IJ; Walsh, AP; Verscharen, D; Smith, AW; Bloch, T; Watt, CEJ; (2020) Statistics of Solar Wind Electron Breakpoint Energies Using Machine Learning Techniques. Astronomy & Astrophysics 10.1051/0004-6361/202037840. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Solar wind electron velocity distributions at 1 au consist of a thermal "core" population and two suprathermal populations: "halo" and "strahl". The core and halo are quasi-isotropic, whereas the strahl typically travels radially outwards along the parallel and/or anti-parallel direction with respect to the interplanetary magnetic field. With Cluster-PEACE data, we analyse energy and pitch angle distributions and use machine learning techniques to provide robust classifications of these solar wind populations. Initially, we use unsupervised algorithms to classify halo and strahl differential energy flux distributions to allow us to calculate relative number densities, which are of the same order as previous results. Subsequently, we apply unsupervised algorithms to phase space density distributions over ten years to study the variation of halo and strahl breakpoint energies with solar wind parameters. In our statistical study, we find both halo and strahl suprathermal breakpoint energies display a significant increase with core temperature, with the halo exhibiting a more positive correlation than the strahl. We conclude low energy strahl electrons are scattering into the core at perpendicular pitch angles. This increases the number of Coulomb collisions and extends the perpendicular core population to higher energies, resulting in a larger difference between halo and strahl breakpoint energies at higher core temperatures. Statistically, the locations of both suprathermal breakpoint energies decrease with increasing solar wind speed. In the case of halo breakpoint energy, we observe two distinct profiles above and below 500 km/s. We relate this to the difference in origin of fast and slow solar wind.

Type: Article
Title: Statistics of Solar Wind Electron Breakpoint Energies Using Machine Learning Techniques
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/202037840
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/202037840
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: plasmas, methods: statistical, Sun: 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/10100139
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