Ionic Charge States of Solar Energetic Particles: A Clue to the Source
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The ionic charge of solar energetic particles (SEP) as observed in interplanetary space is an important parameter for the diagnostic of the plasma conditions at the source region and provides fundamental information about the acceleration and propagation processes at the Sun and in interplanetary space. In this paper we review the new measurements of ionic charge states with advanced instrumentation onboard the SAMPEX, SOHO, and ACE spacecraft that provide for the first time ionic charge measurements over the wide energy range of ∼0.01 to 70 MeV/nuc (for Fe), and for many individual SEP events. These new measurements show a strong energy dependence of the mean ionic charge of heavy ions, most pronounced for iron, indicating that the previous interpretation of the mean ionic charge being solely related to the ambient plasma temperature was too simplistic. This energy dependence, in combination with models on acceleration, charge stripping, and solar and interplanetary propagation, provides constraints for the temperature, density, and acceleration time scales in the acceleration region. The comparison of the measurements with model calculations shows that for impulsive events with a large increase of Q Fe(E) at energies ≤1 MeV/nuc the acceleration occurs low in the corona, typically at altitudes ≤0.2 R S .
KeywordsSun: solar energetic particles Ionic charge states
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