Propagation of cosmic rays in the solar wind

J. Randy Jokipii

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

347 Scopus citations


This paper presents a coherent exposition of the modern statistical theory of the transport of fast charged particles (cosmic rays) in the solar wind. Observations are discussed only as they illustrate the phenomena under discussion. A brief introductory section surveys the historical development of the theory. The dominant effect on the motion of cosmic rays in the solar wind is the interplanetary magnetic field, which is irregular and which is therefore best treated statistically, using random functions. The magnetic irregularities scatter the cosmic rays in pitch angle, so that to a good approximation the cosmic rays diffuse through the irregular magnetic field. Using a statistical analysis of the equations of motion, one may relate the diffusion tensor to the power spectrum of the magnetic field, which is in principle measurable. The resulting general transport theory relates the motion of cosmic rays, statistically, to the solar‐wind velocity and magnetic field. Application of the theory both to the modulation of galactic cosmic rays by the solar wind and to the propagation of solar cosmic rays is discussed in detail. It is concluded that the present theory explains the principal phenomena quite well. Future theoretical work will probably be devoted to obtaining better solutions of the equations, to obtaining better values of the parameters, and to studying higher‐order or more subtle effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-87
Number of pages61
JournalReviews of Geophysics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1971

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics


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