Articles | Volume 17, issue 5
Special issue:
31 May 1999
31 May 1999

Injection and acceleration of H+ and He2+ at Earth's bow shock

M. Scholer, H. Kucharek, and K.-H. Trattner

Abstract. We have performed a number of one-dimensional hybrid simulations (particle ions, massless electron fluid) of quasi-parallel collisionless shocks in order to investigate the injection and subsequent acceleration of part of the solar wind ions at the Earth's bow shock. The shocks propagate into a medium containing magnetic fluctuations, which are initially superimposed on the background field, as well as generated or enhanced by the electromagnetic ion/ion beam instability between the solar wind and backstreaming ions. In order to study the mass (M) and charge (Q) dependence of the acceleration process He2+ is included self-consistently. The upstream differential intensity spectra of H+ and He2+ can be well represented by exponentials in energy. The e-folding energy Ec is a function of time: Ec increases with time. Furthermore the e-folding energy (normalized to the shock ramming energy Ep) increases with increasing Alfvén Mach number of the shock and with increasing fluctuation level of the initially superimposed turbulence. When backstreaming ions leave the shock after their first encounter they exhibit already a spectrum which extends to more than ten times the shock ramming energy and which is ordered in energy per charge. From the injection spectrum it is concluded that leakage of heated downstream particles does not contribute to ion injection. Acceleration models that permit thermal particles to scatter like the non-thermal population do not describe the correct physics.

Key words. Interplanetary physics (planetary bow shocks) · Space plasma physics (charged particle motion and acceleration; numerical simulation studies)

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