Skylab measurements of low energy cosmic rays

Biswas, S. ; Durgaprasad, N. (1980) Skylab measurements of low energy cosmic rays Space Science Reviews, 25 (3). pp. 285-327. ISSN 0038-6308

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In this review the present state of our knowledge on the properties of heavy ions in low energy cosmic rays measured in the Skylab mission and in other spacecrafts is summarised and the possible mechanisms of their origin are discussed. A brief review of the general features of the galactic and solar cosmic rays is given in order to understand the special features of the low energy heavy ions of cosmic rays. The results of the cosmic ray experiment in the Skylab show that in the low energy interval of 8-30 MeV/N, the abundances of oxygen, nitrogen, and neon ions, relative to carbon are enhanced by a factor of 5 to 2 as compared to high energy cosmic rays; while Mg, Si, S, and A are depleted. In 50-150 MeV/N energy interval the abundance of nuclei of Ca-Cr relative to iron-group (Z = 25-28) is found to be highly enhanced, as compared to high energy cosmic rays. Furthermore the observations of the energy spectra of O, N, and Ne ions and their fairly large fluences in the energy interval of 8-30 MeV/N below the geomagnetic cut off energy of 50 MeV/N for fully stripped nuclei at the Skylab orbit indicate that these heavy ions are probably in partly ionised states. Thus, it is found that the Skylab results represent a new type of heavy ion population of low energy cosmic rays below 50 MeV/N, in the near Earth space and their properties are distinctly different from those of high energy cosmic rays and are similar to those of the anomalous component in the interplanetary space. The available data from the Skylab can be understood at present on the hypothesis that low energy interplanetary cosmic ray ions of oxygen etc. occur in partly ionised state such as O+1,O+2, etc. and these reach the inner magnetosphere at high latitudes where stripping process occurs near mirror points and this leads to temporarily trapped ions such as O+3, O+4, etc. It is noted that the origin of these low energy heavy cosmic ray ions in the magnetosphere and in interplanetary space is not yet fully understood and new type of sources or processes are responsible for their origin and these need further studies.

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