The Acceleration of Energetic Particles at Coronal Shocks and Emergence of a Double Power-law Feature in Particle Energy Spectra

Xiangliang Kong, Fan Guo, Yao Chen, Joe Giacalone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


We present numerical modeling of particle acceleration at coronal shocks propagating through a streamer-like magnetic field by solving the Parker transport equation with spatial diffusion both along and across the magnetic field. We show that the location on the shock where the high-energy particle intensity is the largest, depends on the energy of the particles and on time. The acceleration of particles to more than 100 MeV mainly occurs in the shock-streamer interaction region, due to perpendicular shock geometry and the trapping effect of closed magnetic fields. A comparison of the particle spectra to that in a radial magnetic field shows that the intensity at 100 MeV (200 MeV) is enhanced by more than one order (two orders) of magnitude. This indicates that the streamer-like magnetic field can be an important factor in producing large solar energetic particle events. We also show that the energy spectrum integrated over the simulation domain consists of two different power laws. Further analysis suggests that it may be a mixture of two distinct populations accelerated in the streamer and open field regions, where the acceleration rate differs substantially. Our calculations also show that the particle spectra are affected considerably by a number of parameters, such as the streamer tilt angle, particle spatial diffusion coefficient, and shock compression ratio. While the low-energy spectra agree well with standard diffusive shock acceleration theory, the break energy ranges from ∼1 MeV to ∼90 MeV and the high-energy spectra can extend to ∼1 GeV with a slope of ∼2-3.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number49
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 20 2019


  • Sun: corona
  • Sun: coronal mass ejections (CMEs)
  • Sun: magnetic fields
  • Sun: particle emission
  • acceleration of particles
  • shock waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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