Solar flare particle acceleration in collapsing magnetic traps
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The topic of this thesis is a detailed investigation of different aspects of the particle acceleration mechanisms operating in Collapsing Magnetic Traps (CMTs), which have been suggested as one possible mechanism for particle acceleration during solar flares. The acceleration processes in CMTs are investigated using guiding centre test particle calculations. Results including terms of different orders in the guiding centre approximation are compared to help identify which of the terms are important for the acceleration of particles. For a basic 2D CMT model the effects of different initial conditions (position, kinetic energy and pitch angle) of particles are investigated in detail. The main result is that the particles that gain most energy are those with initial pitch angles close to 90° and start in weak field regions in the centre of the CMT. The dominant acceleration mechanism for these particles is betatron acceleration, but other particles also show signatures of Fermi acceleration. The basic CMT model is then extended by (a) including a magnetic field component in the invariant direction and (b) by making it asymmetric. It is found that the addition of a guide field does not change the characteristics of particle acceleration very much, but for the asymmetric models the associated energy gain is found to be much smaller than in symmetric models, because the particles can no longer remain very close to the trap centre throughout their orbit. The test particle method is then also applied to a CMT model from the literature which contains a magnetic X-line and open and closed field lines and the results are compared with the previous results and the findings in the literature. Finally, the theoretical framework of CMT models is extended to 2.5D models with shear flow and to fully 3D models, allowing the construction of more realistic CMT models in the future.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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