New modeling of galactic proton modulation during the minimum of solar cycle 23/24
Vos, Etienne E.
Potgieter, Marius S.
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During the recent prolonged solar minimum of cycle 23/24, the PAMELA detector measured 27-day averaged Galactic proton energy spectra over the energy range that is important for solar modulation. By comparing these spectra to computed spectra from a three-dimensional model that contains all of the important heliospheric modulation processes, the recent minimum can be studied in detail from a modulation perspective. This was done by setting up a realistic heliosphere in the model, and reproducing a representative selection of seven intermittent PAMELA spectra, separated by approximately six months, from 2006 July to 2009 December. Additionally, a new very local interstellar proton spectrum was constructed using measurements below 600 MeV from Voyager 1, taken beyond the heliopause, combined with PAMELA and AMS-02 measurements above 30 GeV at the Earth. As a result of the extreme minimum modulation conditions that governed the recent solar minimum, the highest ever Galactic cosmic ray spectrum at Earth was observed by PAMELA at the end of 2009. It was found that, apart from the self-consistent changes in the heliospheric current sheet and the heliospheric magnetic field over time, additional increases in the mean free paths during this period were required below ~4 GV in order to reproduce the intensities observed by PAMELA.