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Published August 1, 2002 | Published
Journal Article Open

Spectral Properties of He and Heavy Ions in ^3He-rich Solar Flares


Using advanced instrumentation on the ACE spacecraft, we have conducted a survey of solar energetic particle spectra in ^3He-rich events over a broad energy range ~80 keV nucleon^(-1) to 15 MeV nucleon^(-1) during the period 1997 September-2001 March. The spectra of ^4He and heavy ions (C, N, O, Ne, Mg, Si, S, Ca, Fe) were generally similar over this range but often hardened below ~1 MeV nucleon^(-1). In most of the events there was even stronger hardening of the ^3He spectrum below ~1 MeV nucleon^(-1), leading to an energy-dependent ^3He : ^4He ratio. These observations point to unique and distinct properties of ^3He in these events and place new constraints on models that seek to explain enhancements of ^3He and heavy ions using the same mechanisms. In addition to the events with spectra in the form of power laws or double power laws, there is a second class of event in which the low-energy ^3He and Fe spectra are rounded, while the ^4He remains a power law. In these cases ^3He and Fe spectra can be fitted at low energies by a stochastic acceleration model, but this model does not explain the higher energy portions of these spectra, nor the power-law spectral forms of the ^4He. These observations appear to require an additional mechanism, such as acceleration by cascading MHD turbulence. The ^3He enrichment pattern that we observe suggests that all these different spectral features might be due to processes with a common origin but then followed by different acceleration histories.

Additional Information

© 2002 American Astronomical Society. Received 2002 January 2; accepted 2002 April 8. We thank the many individuals at the University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Goddard Space Flight Center responsible for the construction of the ULEIS and SIS instruments. This work was supported in part by NASA under grant PC 251429 at the University of Maryland and NAG5-6912 at Caltech.

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