Transient Cosmic-ray Events beyond the Heliopause: Interpreting Voyager-1 Observations

J. Kóta, J. R. Jokipii

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


In 2013 March and 2014 May, Voyager-1 (V1) experienced small but significant increases in the flux of galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) in the hundred MeV/n range. Additionally, V1 also saw episodic depletion of GCR flux around perpendicular pitch angles. We discuss the pitch-angle distribution and the time profiles of these events. In a previous paper, we interpreted the 2013 "bump" as the GCRs remotely sensing a shock that reached the magnetic field line passing through V1: particles gained energy as they were reflected on the approaching region of the stronger magnetic field of the disturbance. Here, we point out that energy gain is not restricted to reflected particles - GCRs passing through the disturbance also gain energy. The effect should be present in a broad range of pitch angles with the maximum increase of GCR intensity predicted to occur at the critical reflection angle. In this paper, the shock is not step-like, but a gradual increase of the magnetic field strength, B, taking a few days, in agreement with V1 measurements. This smoothens the profile of the predicted bump in the GCR flux. We also address the linear episodic decreases seen around perpendicular pitch angles. These events are interpreted in terms of adiabatic cooling behind the shock due to the slow weakening of B. We present simple numerical model calculations and find that a gradual shock followed by a slow decrease of B, as observed, may account for both the episodic increases and the anisotropic depletion of GCR fluxes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number126
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 20 2017


  • Sun: heliosphere
  • cosmic rays

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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