Articles | Volume 27, issue 2
19 Feb 2009
 | 19 Feb 2009

Features of energetic particle radial profiles inferred from geosynchronous responses to solar wind dynamic pressure enhancements

Y. Shi, E. Zesta, and L. R. Lyons

Abstract. Determination of the radial profile of phase space density of relativistic electrons at constant adiabatic invariants is crucial for identifying the source for them within the outer radiation belt. The commonly used method is to convert flux observed at fixed energy to phase space density at constant first, second and third adiabatic invariants, which requires an empirical global magnetic field model and thus might produce some uncertainties in the final results. From a different perspective, in this paper we indirectly infer the shape of the radial profile of phase space density of relativistic electrons near the geosynchronous region by statistically examining the geosynchronous energetic flux response to 128 solar wind dynamic pressure enhancements during the years 2000 to 2003. We thus avoid the disadvantage of using empirical magnetic field models. Our results show that the flux response is species and energy dependent. For protons and low-energy electrons, the primary response to magnetospheric compression is an increase in flux at geosynchronous orbit. For relativistic electrons, the dominant response is a decrease in flux, which implies that the phase space density decreases toward increasing radial distance at geosynchronous orbit and leads to a local peak inside of geosynchronous orbit. The flux response of protons and non-relativistic electrons could result from a phase density that increases toward increasing radial distance, but this cannot be determined for sure due to the particle energization associated with pressure enhancements. Our results for relativistic electrons are consistent with previous results obtained using magnetic field models, thus providing additional confirmation that these results are correct and indicating that they are not the result of errors in their selected magnetic field model.