Articles | Volume 21, issue 6
Special issue:
30 Jun 2003
 | 30 Jun 2003

Latitudinal and radial variation of >2 GeV/n protons and alpha-particles at solar maximum: ULYSSES COSPIN/KET and neutron monitor network observations

A. V. Belov, E. A. Eroshenko, B. Heber, V. G. Yanke, A. Raviart, R. Müller-Mellin, and H. Kunow

Abstract. Ulysses, launched in October 1990, began its second out-of-ecliptic orbit in September 1997. In 2000/2001 the spacecraft passed from the south to the north polar regions of the Sun in the inner heliosphere. In contrast to the first rapid pole to pole passage in 1994/1995 close to solar minimum, Ulysses experiences now solar maximum conditions. The Kiel Electron Telescope (KET) measures also protons and alpha-particles in the energy range from 5 MeV/n to >2 GeV/n. To derive radial and latitudinal gradients for >2 GeV/n protons and alpha-particles, data from the Chicago instrument on board IMP-8 and the neutron monitor network have been used to determine the corresponding time profiles at Earth. We obtain a spatial distribution at solar maximum which differs greatly from the solar minimum distribution. A steady-state approximation, which was characterized by a small radial and significant latitudinal gradient at solar minimum, was interchanged with a highly variable one with a large radial and a small – consistent with zero – latitudinal gradient. A significant deviation from a spherically symmetric cosmic ray distribution following the reversal of the solar magnetic field in 2000/2001 has not been observed yet. A small deviation has only been observed at northern polar regions, showing an excess of particles instead of the expected depression. This indicates that the reconfiguration of the heliospheric magnetic field, caused by the reappearance of the northern polar coronal hole, starts dominating the modulation of galactic cosmic rays already at solar maximum.

Key words. Interplanetary physics (cosmic rays; energetic particles) – Space plasma physics (charged particle motion and acceleration)