Modelling of galactic cosmic ray electrons in the heliosphere
Nndanganeni, Rendani Rejoyce
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The Voyager 1 spacecraft is now about 25 AU beyond the heliospheric termination shock and soon it should encounter the outer boundary of the heliosphere, the heliopause. This is set to be at 120 AU in the modulation model used for this study. This implies that Voyager 1, and soon afterwards also Voyager 2, should be able to measure the heliopause spectrum, to be interpreted as the lowest possible local interstellar spectrum, for low energy galactic electrons (1 MeV to 120 MeV). This could give an answer to a long outstanding question about the spectral shape (energy dependence) of the galactic electron spectrum at these low energies. These in situ electron observations from Voyager 1, until the year 2010 when it was already beyond 112 AU, are used for a comparative study with a comprehensive three dimensional numerical model for the solar modulation of galactic electrons from the inner to the outer heliosphere. A locally developed steady state modulation model which numerically solves the relevant heliospheric transport equation is used to compute and study modulated electron spectra from Earth up to the heliopause. The issue of the spectral shape of the local interstellar spectrum at these low energies is specifically addressed, taking into account modulation in the inner heliosheath, up to the heliopause, including the effects of the transition of the solar wind speed from supersonic to subsonic in the heliosheath. Modulated electron spectra from the inner to the outer heliosphere are computed, together with radial and latitudinal profiles, focusing on 12 MeV electrons. This is compared to Voyager 1 observations for the energy range 6–14 MeV. A heliopause electron spectrum is computed and presented as a new plausible local interstellar spectrum from 30 GeV down to 10 MeV. The comparisons between model predictions and observations from Voyager 1 and at Earth (e.g. from the PAMELA mission and from balloon flights) and in the inner heliosphere (e.g. from the Ulysses mission) are made. This enables one to make conclusions about diffusion theory applicable to electrons in the heliosphere, in particular the rigidity dependence of diffusion perpendicular and parallel to the local background solar magnetic field. A general result is that the rigidity dependence of both parallel and perpendicular diffusion coefficients needs to be constant below P < 0.4 GV and only be allowed to increase above this rigidity to assure compatibility between the modeling and observations at Earth and especially in the outer heliosphere. A modification in the radial dependence of the diffusion coefficients in the inner heliosheath is required to compute realistic modulation in this region. With this study, estimates of the intensity of low energy galactic electrons at Earth can be made. A new local interstellar spectrum is computed for these low energies to improve understanding of the modulation galactic electrons as compared to previous results described in the literature.
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