Reconciling the electron counterstreaming and dropout occurrence rates with the heliospheric flux budget
Owens, M. J. and Crooker, N. U. (2007) Reconciling the electron counterstreaming and dropout occurrence rates with the heliospheric flux budget. Journal of Geophysical Research, 112 (A6). A06106. ISSN 0148-0227
To link to this article DOI: 10.1029/2006JA012159
Counterstreaming electrons (CSEs) are treated as signatures of closed magnetic flux, i.e., loops connected to the Sun at both ends. However, CSEs at 1 AU likely fade as the apex of a closed loop passes beyond some distance R, owing to scattering of the sunward beam along its continually increasing path length. The remaining antisunward beam at 1 AU would then give a false signature of open flux. Subsequent opening of a loop at the Sun by interchange reconnection with an open field line would produce an electron dropout (ED) at 1 AU, as if two open field lines were reconnecting to completely disconnect from the Sun. Thus EDs can be signatures of interchange reconnection as well as the commonly attributed disconnection. We incorporate CSE fadeout into a model that matches time-varying closed flux from interplanetary coronal mass ejections (ICMEs) to the solar cycle variation in heliospheric flux. Using the observed occurrence rate of CSEs at solar maximum, the model estimates R ∼ 8–10 AU. Hence we demonstrate that EDs should be much rarer than CSEs at 1 AU, as EDs can only be detected when the juncture points of reconnected field lines lie sunward of the detector, whereas CSEs continue to be detected in the legs of all loops that have expanded beyond the detector, out to R. We also demonstrate that if closed flux added to the heliosphere by ICMEs is instead balanced by disconnection elsewhere, then ED occurrence at 1 AU would still be rare, contrary to earlier expectations.