Solar cosmic rays during the extremely high ground level enhancement on 23 February 1956
- 1Institute of Terrestrial Magnetism, Ionosphere and Radio Wave Propagation (IZMIRAN), 42092, Troitsk, Moscow Region, Russia
- 2Nuclear and Particle Physics Section, Physics Department, Athens University Pan/polis-Zografos 15771 Athens, Greece
Abstract. The 23 February 1956 ground level enhancement of the solar cosmic ray intensity (GLE05) is the most famous among the proton events observed since 1942. But we do not have a great deal of information on this event due to the absence of solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field measurements at that time. Furthermore, there were no X-Ray or gamma observations and the information on the associated flare is limited. Cosmic ray data was obtained exclusively by ground level detectors of small size and in some cases of a non-standard design. In the present work all available data from neutron monitors operating in 1956 were analyzed, in order to develop a model of the solar cosmic ray behavior during the event. The time-dependent characteristics of the cosmic ray energy spectrum, cosmic ray anisotropy, and differential and integral fluxes have been evaluated utilizing different isotropic and anisotropic models. It is shown that the most outstanding features of this proton enhancement were a narrow and extremely intense beam of ultra-relativistic particles arriving at Earth just after the onset and the unusually high maximum solar particle energy. However, the contribution of this beam to the overall solar particle density and fluency was not significant because of its very short duration and small width. Our estimate of the integral flux for particles with energies over 100 MeV places this event above all subsequent. Perhaps the number of accelerated low energy particles was closer to a record value, but these particles passed mainly to the west of Earth.
Many features of this GLE are apparently explained by the peculiarity of the particle interplanetary propagation from a remote (near the limb) source. The quality of the available neutron monitor data does not allow us to be certain of some details; these may be cleared up by the incorporation into the analysis of data from muonic telescopes and ionization chambers operating at that time.
Keywords. Interplanatary physics (Cosmic rays; Energetic particles) – Solar physics, astrophysics and astronomy (Flares and mass injections)