Detailed composition of iron ions in interplanetary coronal mass ejections based on a multipopulation approach
Context. Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are extremely dynamical, large-scale events in which plasma - but not only the coronal plasma - is ejected into interplanetary space. If a CME is detected in situ by a spacecraft located in the interplanetary medium, it is then called an interplanetary coronal mass ejection (ICME). This solar activity has been studied widely since coronagraphs were first flown into space in the early 1970s.
Aims: Charge states of heavy ions reflect important information about the coronal temperature profile due to the freeze-in effect and it is estimated that iron ions freeze in at heights of ∼5 solar radii. However, the measured charge-state distribution of iron ions cannot be composed of only one single group of plasma. To identify the different populations of iron charge-state composition of ICMEs and determine their sources, we developed a model that independently uses two, three, and four populations of iron ions to fit the measured charge-state distribution in ICMEs detected by the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) at 1 AU.
Methods: Three parameters are used to identify a certain population, namely freeze-in temperature, relative abundance, and kappa value (κ), which together describe the potential non-Maxwellian kappa distributions of coronal electrons. Our method chooses the reduced chi-squared to describe the goodness of fit of the model to the observations. The parameters of our model are optimized with the covariance-matrix-adaptation evolution strategy (CMA-ES).
Results: Two major types of ICMEs are identified according to the existence of hot material, and both, that is, the cool type and the hot type, have two main subtypes. Different populations in those types have their own features related to freeze-in temperature and κ. The electron velocity distribution function usually contains a significant hot tail in typical coronal material and hot material, while the Maxwellian distribution appears more frequently in mid-temperature material. Our model is also suitable for all types of solar wind and the existence of hot populations as well as the change of temperatures of individual populations may indicate boundaries between ICMEs and individual solar wind streams.