The physics of particle acceleration at the heliospheric termination shock

J. R. Jokipii, Joe Giacalone, Jozsef Kóta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Cosmic rays are ubiquitous in space, and the essential similarity of their energy spectra in many different regions places significant general constraints on the mechanisms for their acceleration and confinement. Diffusive shock acceleration is at present the most successful acceleration mechanism proposed, and, together with transport in Kolmogorov turbulence, can account for the universal specta. A unique laboratory for studying the acceleration and transport of charged particles is the outer heliosphere, including the solar wind termination shock and heliosheath. A widely accepted paradigm for the transport and acceleration of energetic particles in the heliosphere has evolved over the last few decades. This picture has successfully explained many features of the modulation of galactic cosmic rays and the transport and acceleration of anomalous cosmic rays at the solar-wind termination shock. Recent Voyager observations near and beyond the termination shock have revealed new, and in some cases, unexpected phenomena which have led to questions concerning the established paradigm. The physical interpretation of the observations requires a blunt termination shock, rapid inward motion of the shock and temporal variations over time scales ranging from hours to 22 years. Incorporation of these into the physics has promise of explaining most, if not, all of the observed phenomena while retaining the advantages of the termination shock paradigm for both galactic and anomalous cosmic rays.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2267-2272
Number of pages6
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Issue number15
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Energetic particles
  • Heliosphere
  • Solar wind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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