Title

Superposition of stochastic processes and the resulting particle distributions

Abstract

Many observations of suprathermal and energetic particles in the solar wind and the inner heliosheath show that distribution functions scale approximately with the inverse of particle speed (v) to the fifth power. Although there are exceptions to this behavior, there is a growing need to understand why this type of distribution function appears so frequently. This paper develops the concept that a superposition of exponential and Gaussian distributions with different characteristic speeds and temperatures show power-law tails. The particular type of distribution function, f alpha v(-5), appears in a number of different ways: (1) a series of Poisson-like processes where entropy is maximized with the rates of individual processes inversely proportional to the characteristic exponential speed, (2) a series of Gaussian distributions where the entropy is maximized with the rates of individual processes inversely proportional to temperature and the density of individual Gaussian distributions proportional to temperature, and (3) a series of different diffusively accelerated energetic particle spectra with individual spectra derived from observations (1997-2002) of a multiplicity of different shocks. Thus, we develop a proof-of-concept for the superposition of stochastic processes that give rise to power-law distribution functions.

Department

Physics

Publication Date

4-20-2010

Journal Title

Astrophysical Journal

Publisher

IOP PUBLISHING LTD

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

10.1088/0004-637X/713/2/1386

Document Type

Article

Rights

© 2010. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

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