Proton and Helium Heating by Cascading Turbulence in a Low-beta Plasma

Zhaodong Shi, P. A. Muñoz, J. Büchner, Siming Liu

Submitted on 1 November 2022


How ions are energized and heated is a fundamental problem in the study of energy dissipation in magnetized plasmas. In particular, the heating of heavy ions (including 4He2+, 3He2+ and others) has been a constant concern for understanding the microphysics of impulsive solar flares. In this article, via two-dimensional hybrid-kinetic Particle-in-Cell simulations, we study the heating of Helium ions (4He2+) by turbulence driven by cascading waves launched at large scales from the left-handed polarized Helium ion cyclotron wave branch of a multi-ion plasma composed of electrons, protons, and Helium ions. We find significant parallel (to the background magnetic field) heating for both Helium ions and protons due to the formation of beams and plateaus in their velocity distribution functions along the background magnetic field. The heating of Helium ions in the direction perpendicular to the magnetic field starts with a lower rate than that in the parallel direction, but overtakes the parallel heating after a few hundreds of the proton gyro-periods due to cyclotron resonances with mainly obliquely propagating waves induced by the cascade of injected Helium ion cyclotron waves at large scales. There is however little evidence for proton heating in the perpendicular direction due to the absence of left-handed polarized cyclotron waves near the proton cyclotron frequency. Our results are useful for understanding the preferential heating of 3He and other heavy ions in the 3He-rich solar energetic particle events, in which Helium ions play a crucial role as a species of background ions regulating the kinetic plasma behavior.


Comment: accepted by ApJ

Subjects: Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics; Physics - Plasma Physics; Physics - Space Physics