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Ion velocity distribution at the termination shock: 1-D PIC simulation

Quanming M. Lu 1 Zhongwei W. Yang 1 Bertrand Lembège 2
LATMOS - Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales
Abstract : The Voyager 2 (V2) plasma observations of the proton temperature downstream of the quasi-perpendicular heliospheric termination shock (TS) showed that upstream thermal solar wind ions played little role in the shock dissipation mechanism and their downstream temperature is an order of magnitude smaller than predicted by MHD Rankine-Hugoniot conditions. While pickup ions (PUI) are generally expected to play an important role in energy dissipation at the shock, the details remain unclear. Here, one-dimensional (1-D) Particle-in-cell (PIC) code is used to examine kinetic properties and downstream velocity distribution functions of pickup ions (the hot supra-thermal component) and solar wind protons (SWs, the cold component) at the perpendicular heliospheric termination shock. The code treats the pickup ions self-consistently as a third component. Present results show that: (1) both of the incident SWs and PUIs can be separated into two parts: reflected (R) ions and directly transmitted (DT) ions, the energy gain of the R ions at the shock front is much larger than that of the DT ions; (2) the fraction of reflected SWs and their downstream temperature decrease with the relative percentage PUI%; (3) no matter how large the PUI% is, the downstream ion velocity distribution function always can be separated into three parts: 1. a high energy tail (i.e. the wings) dominated by the reflected PUIs, 2. a low energy core mainly contributed by the directly transmitted SWs, and 3. a middle energy part which is a complicated superposition of reflected SWs and directly transmitted PUIs. The significance of the presence of pickup ions on shock front micro-structure and nonstationarity is also discussed.
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Quanming M. Lu, Zhongwei W. Yang, Bertrand Lembège. Ion velocity distribution at the termination shock: 1-D PIC simulation. Space weather: The space radiation environment: 11th Annual International Astrophysics Conference. AIP Conference Proceedings, Vol 1500, Mar 2012, Palm Springs, United States. pp.241-248, ⟨10.1063/1.4768773⟩. ⟨hal-00773154⟩



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