Solar Physics

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 189–223 | Cite as

The variation of solar proton energy spectra and size distribution with heliolongitude

  • M. A. I. Van Hollebeke
  • L. S. Ma Sung
  • F. B. McDonald


A statistical study of the initial phases of 185 solar particle events has been carried out using the data from the Goddard cosmic ray experiments on IMPs IV and V. Special emphasis is placed on the identification of the associated solar flare. The parent flare can be determined for 68 % of the events. It appears probable that most of the unidentified increases occur on the non-visible disc of the Sun. The existence of a ‘preferred-connection’ longitude between 20°W and 80° W is established by examining the heliolongitude of all the flare associated events. While power law in differential kinetic energy appears to give the best representation it cannot be distinguished from exponential in rigidity over the limited range of 20–80 MeV. It is argued that for heliolongitudes λ = 20–80°W, γ p ,the spectral index determined at the time of maximum particle intensity is representative of the source spectra. For these heliolongitudes γ p displays a surprisingly small range with magnitudes varying mainly between 2.0 and 3.1. At lower energies γ p is smaller. Previous electron measurements provide almost identical average values of the source spectra over similar energy ranges. These results are discussed briefly in terms of Fermi acceleration models.

For flare events located further away from the nominal field line connecting the Earth and the Sun, γ p becomes progressively steeper. The lower energies (4–20 MeV) do not exhibit this behavior. It is argued that this spectral steepening at the higher energies is the result of energy-dependent escape during the coronal diffusion process. The size distribution can be represented by a power law of the form dN/dI=I where N is the number of events per unit intensity and I is the maximum particle intensity at a given energy (usually taken at 40 MeV) with α ≈ 1.15 ±0.1. The same value of a applies to both eastern and western hemisphere events. The event size, on the average, appears to decrease approximately two orders of magnitude for each 60° away from the preferred connection region.


Flare Source Spectrum Solar Proton Acceleration Model Flare Event 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. A. I. Van Hollebeke
    • 1
  • L. S. Ma Sung
    • 1
  • F. B. McDonald
    • 1
  1. 1.NASA/Goddard Space Flight CenterGreenbeltU.S.A.

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