M. I. Desai, G. M. Mason, M. A. Dayeh, R. W. Ebert, D. J. McComas, G. Li, C. M.S. Cohen, R. A. Mewaldt, N. A. Schwadron, C. W. Smith

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We have surveyed ∼0.1-100 MeV nucleon-1 O and Fe fluence spectra during 46 isolated, large gradual SEP events observed at ACE during solar cycles 23 and 24. Most SEP spectra are well represented by the four-parameter Band function with a normalization constant, low-energy spectral slope, high-energy spectral slope, and break energy. The O and Fe spectral slopes are similar and most spectra steepen above the break energy, probably due to common acceleration and transport processes affecting different ion species. SEP spectra above the break energies depend on the origin of the seed population; larger contributions of suprathermal flare material result in higher Fe/O ratios and flatter spectra at higher energies. SEP events with steeper O spectra at low energies and higher break energies are associated with slower coronal mass ejections (CMEs), while those associated with fast (>2000 km s-1) CMEs and ground level enhancements have harder or flatter spectra at low and high energies, and O break energies between ∼1 and 10 MeV nucleon-1. The latter events are enriched in 3He and higher-energy Fe, and have Fe spectra that rollover at significantly lower energies compared with O, probably because Fe ions with smaller Q/M ratios can escape from the distant shock more easily than O ions with larger Q/M ratios. We conclude that SEP spectral properties result from many complex and competing effects, namely Q/M-dependent scattering, shock properties, and the origin of the seed populations, all of which must be taken into account to develop a comprehensive picture of CME-driven shock acceleration of large gradual SEP events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number68
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 10 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Sun: abundances
  • Sun: coronal mass ejections (CMEs)
  • Sun: particle emission
  • interplanetary medium
  • shock waves

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    Desai, M. I., Mason, G. M., Dayeh, M. A., Ebert, R. W., McComas, D. J., Li, G., Cohen, C. M. S., Mewaldt, R. A., Schwadron, N. A., & Smith, C. W. (2016). SPECTRAL PROPERTIES of LARGE GRADUAL SOLAR ENERGETIC PARTICLE EVENTS. I. FE, O, and SEED MATERIAL. Astrophysical Journal, 816(2), [68]. https://doi.org/10.3847/0004-637X/816/2/68