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Energy Distribution of Pickup Ions at the Solar Wind Termination Shock

Author(s): Kumar, R; Zirnstein, EJ; Spitkovsky, Anatoly

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Abstract: In-situ measurements taken by the Voyager 2 spacecraft suggest that the solar wind termination shock is significantly affected by the presence of pickup ions that are produced in the inner heliosphere due to charge exchange between interstellar neutrals and the solar wind ions. We use a fully kinetic particle-in-cell method to self-consistently simulate the shock with all physical properties available from Voyager 2. We have performed a set of simulations with varying velocity distribution functions for the pickup ions, since it was not determined by Voyager's measurements. We show that the measurements suggest that the pickup ions upstream of the shock are more energetic than generally believed. If their velocity distribution function assumes a filled-shell shape in the wind frame, the maximum cutoff speed for the pickup ions should be 650 km s-1 in order to reproduce the measurements, which is almost twice the local wind speed. We suggest that pickup ions upstream of the shock are energized by adiabatic compression of the solar wind plasma as well as due to an enhanced level of turbulence in a broad foreshock region.
Publication Date: 22-Jun-2018
Electronic Publication Date: 20-Jun-2018
Citation: Kumar, R, Zirnstein, EJ, Spitkovsky, A. (2018). Energy Distribution of Pickup Ions at the Solar Wind Termination Shock. Astrophysical Journal, 860 (2), 10.3847/1538-4357/aabf96
DOI: doi:10.3847/1538-4357/aabf96
ISSN: 0004-637X
EISSN: 1538-4357
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Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Astrophysical Journal
Version: Final published version. Article is made available in OAR by the publisher's permission or policy.

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