The acceleration of electrons at perpendicular shocks and its implication for solar energetic particle events

Fan Guo, Joe Giacalone

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


We present a study of the acceleration of electrons at a perpendicular shock that propagates through a turbulentmagnetic field. The energization process of electrons is investigated by utilizing a combination of hybrid (kinetic ions and fluid electron) simulations and test-particle electron simulations. In this method, the motions of the test-particle electrons are numerically integrated in the time-dependent electric and magnetic fields generated by two-dimensional hybrid simulations. We show that large-scale magnetic fluctuations effect electrons in a number of ways and lead to efficient and rapid energization at the shock front. Since the electrons mainly follow along magnetic lines of force, the large-scale braiding of field lines in space allows the fast-moving electrons to interact with the shock front and get accelerated multiple times. Ripples in the shock front occurring at various scales will also contribute to the acceleration by mirroring the electrons. Our calculation shows that this process favors electron acceleration at perpendicular shocks. The acceleration efficiency is critically dependent on the turbulence amplitude and coherence length. We also discuss the implication of this study for solar energetic particles (SEPs) by comparing the acceleration of electrons with that of protons. Their correlation indicates that perpendicular shocks play an important role in SEP events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAIP Conference Proceedings
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Event11th Annual International Astrophysics Conference on Space Weather: The Space Radiation Environment - Palm Springs, CA, United States
Duration: Mar 19 2012Mar 23 2012


Other11th Annual International Astrophysics Conference on Space Weather: The Space Radiation Environment
CountryUnited States
CityPalm Springs, CA



  • Acceleration of particles
  • cosmic rays
  • shock waves
  • turbulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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