An analysis of model fit results of 15,210 electron velocity distribution functions (VDFs), observed within ±2 hr of 52 interplanetary (IP) shocks by the Wind spacecraft near 1 au, is presented as the third and final part on electron VDFs near IP shocks. The core electrons and protons dominate in the magnitude and change in the partial-to-total thermal pressure ratio, with the core electrons often gaining as much or more than the protons. Only a moderate positive correlation is observed between the electron temperature and the kinetic energy change across the shock, while weaker, if any, correlations were found with any other macroscopic shock parameter. No VDF parameter correlated with the shock normal angle. The electron VDF evolves from a narrowly peaked core with flaring suprathermal tails in the upstream to either a slightly hotter core with steeper tails or much hotter flattop core with even steeper tails downstream of the weaker and strongest shocks, respectively. Both quasi-static and fluctuating fields are examined as possible mechanisms modifying the VDF, but neither is sufficient alone. For instance, flattop VDFs can be generated by nonlinear ion acoustic wave stochastic acceleration (I.e., inelastic collisions), while other work suggested they result from the combination of quasi-static and fluctuating fields. This three-part study shows that not only are these systems not thermodynamic in nature; even kinetic models may require modification to include things like inelastic collision operators to properly model electron VDF evolution across shocks or in the solar wind.
The Astrophysical Journal
- Pub Date:
- April 2020
- Physics - Space Physics;
- Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics;
- Physics - Plasma Physics
- 30 pages, 10 figures, 3 tables, to be submitted to Astrophys. J