Association of suprathermal particles with coherent structures and shocks

J. A. Tessein, W. H. Matthaeus, M. Wan, K. T. Osman, D. Ruffolo, J. Giacalone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Various mechanisms have been proposed to explain observed suprathermal particle populations in the solar wind, including direct acceleration at flares, stochastic acceleration, shock acceleration, and acceleration by random compression or reconnection sites. Using magnetic field and suprathermal particle data from the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE), we identify coherent structures and interplanetary shocks, and analyze the temporal association of energetic particle fluxes with these coherent structures. Coherent structures having a range of intensities are identified using the magnetic Partial Variance of Increments statistic, essentially a normalized vector increment. A stronger association of energetic particle flux in the 0.047-4.75 MeV range is found with intense magnetic discontinuities than is found with shocks. Nevertheless, the average profile of suprathermals near shocks is quite consistent with standard models of diffusive shock acceleration, while a significant amount of the energetic particles measured and strong discontinuities are found by ACE within six hours of a shock. This evidence supports the view that multiple mechanisms contribute to the acceleration and transport of interplanetary suprathermal particles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL8
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 10 2013


  • acceleration of particles
  • magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
  • plasmas
  • shock waves
  • solar wind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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