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Space Science Reviews

, Volume 171, Issue 1–4, pp 3–21 | Cite as

GeV Particle Acceleration in Solar Flares and Ground Level Enhancement (GLE) Events

  • Markus J. AschwandenEmail author
Article

Abstract

Ground Level Enhancement (GLE) events represent the most energetic class of solar energetic particle (SEP) events, requiring acceleration processes to boost ≳1 GeV ions in order to produce showers of secondary particles in the Earth’s atmosphere with sufficient intensity to be detected by ground-level neutron monitors, above the background of cosmic rays. Although the association of GLE events with both solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) is undisputed, the question arises about the location of the responsible acceleration site: coronal flare reconnection sites, coronal CME shocks, or interplanetary shocks? To investigate the first possibility we explore the timing of GLE events with respect to hard X-ray production in solar flares, considering the height and magnetic topology of flares, the role of extended acceleration, and particle trapping. We find that 50% (6 out of 12) of recent (non-occulted) GLE events are accelerated during the impulsive flare phase, while the remaining half are accelerated significantly later. It appears that the prompt GLE component, which is observed in virtually all GLE events according to a recent study by Vashenyuk et al. (Astrophys. Space Sci. Trans. 7(4):459–463, 2011), is consistent with a flare origin in the lower corona, while the delayed gradual GLE component can be produced by both, either by extended acceleration and/or trapping in flare sites, or by particles accelerated in coronal and interplanetary shocks.

Keywords

Solar flares Particle acceleration Ground level enhancements 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank the anonymous referee for pointing out a crucial timing correction, and Ludwig Klein for complementary comments. This work resulted from two Coordinated Data Analysis Workshops (CDAW) on Ground Level Enhancement Events (GLEs), held in January 2009 in Palo Alto, California, and in November 2009, Huntsville, Alabama, organized by Nariaki Nitta and Nat Gopalswamy.

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Solar & Astrophysics LaboratoryLockheed Martin Advanced Technology CenterPalo AltoUSA

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