Prompt injections of highly relativistic electrons induced by interplanetary shocks: A statistical study of Van Allen Probes observations

We conduct a statistical study on the sudden response of outer radiation belt electrons due to interplanetary (IP) shocks during the Van Allen Probes era, i.e., 2012 to 2015. Data from the Relativistic Electron-Proton Telescope instrument on board Van Allen Probes are used to investigate the highly relativistic electron response (E > 1.8 MeV) within the first few minutes after shock impact. We investigate the relationship of IP shock parameters, such as Mach number, with the highly relativistic electron response, including spectral properties and radial location of the shock-induced injection. We find that the driving solar wind structure of the shock does not affect occurrence for enhancement events, 25\% of IP shocks are associated with prompt energization, and 14\% are associated with MeV electron depletion. Parameters that represent IP shock strength are found to correlate best with highest levels of energization, suggesting that shock strength may play a key role in the severity of the enhancements. However, not every shock results in an enhancement, indicating that magnetospheric preconditioning may be required.
Year of Publication
Geophysical Research Letters
Date Published