skip to main content

Title: Proton Heating by a Proton–Alpha Drift Instability with an Anisotropic Alpha-particle Temperature in a Turbulent Solar-wind Plasma
Abstract

The proton–alpha drift instability is a possible mechanism of the alpha-particle deceleration and the resulting proton heating in the solar wind. We present hybrid numerical simulations of this instability with particle-in-cell ions and a quasi-neutralizing electron fluid for typical conditions at 1 au. For the parameters used in this paper, we find that fast magnetosonic unstable modes propagate only in the direction opposite to the alpha-particle drift and do not produce the perpendicular proton heating necessary to accelerate the solar wind. Alfvén modes propagate in both directions and heat the protons perpendicularly to the mean magnetic field. Despite being driven by the alpha temperature anisotropy, the Alfvén instability also extracts the energy from the bulk motion of the alpha particles. In the solar wind, the instabilities operate in a turbulent ambient medium. We show that the turbulence suppresses the Alfvén instability but the perpendicular proton heating persists. Unlike a static nonuniform background, the turbulence does not invert the sense of the proton heating associated with the fast magnetosonic instability and it remains preferentially parallel.

Authors:
;
Award ID(s):
1919310
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10366852
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Volume:
930
Issue:
2
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Article No. 120
ISSN:
0004-637X
Publisher:
DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. The ability of space plasmas to self-regulate through mechanisms involving self-generated fluctuations is a topic of high interest. This paper presents the results of a new advanced quasilinear (QL) approach for the instability of electromagnetic ion-cyclotron modes driven by the relative alpha-proton drift observed in solar wind. For an extended parametric analysis, the present QL approach includes also the effects of intrinsic anisotropic temperatures of these populations. The enhanced fluctuations contribute to an exchange of energy between proton and alpha particles, leading to important variations of the anisotropies, the proton-alpha drift and the temperature contrast. The results presented here can help understand the observational data, in particular, those revealing the local variations associated with the properties of protons and alpha particles as well as the spatial profiles in the expanding solar wind.
  2. Abstract During its 10th orbit around the Sun, the Parker Solar Probe sampled two intervals where the local Alfvén speed exceeded the solar wind speed, lasting more than 10 hours in total. In this paper, we analyze the turbulence and wave properties during these periods. The turbulence is observed to be Alfvénic and unbalanced, dominated by outward-propagating modes. The power spectrum of the outward-propagating Elsässer z + mode steepens at high frequencies while that of the inward-propagating z − mode flattens. The observed Elsässer spectra can be explained by the nearly incompressible (NI) MHD turbulence model with both 2D and Alfvénic components. The modeling results show that the z + spectra are dominated by the NI/slab component, and the 2D component mainly affects the z − spectra at low frequencies. An MHD wave decomposition based on an isothermal closure suggests that outward-propagating Alfvén and fast magnetosonic wave modes are prevalent in the two sub-Alfvénic intervals, while the slow magnetosonic modes dominate the super-Alfvénic interval in between. The slow modes occur where the wavevector is nearly perpendicular to the local mean magnetic field, corresponding to nonpropagating pressure-balanced structures. The alternating forward and backward slow modes may also be features of magneticmore »reconnection in the near-Sun heliospheric current sheet.« less
  3. Context. The Parker Solar Probe (PSP) measures solar wind protons and electrons near the Sun. To study the thermodynamic properties of electrons and protons, we include electron effects, such as distributed turbulent heating between protons and electrons, Coulomb collisions between protons and electrons, and heat conduction of electrons. Aims. We develop a general theoretical model of nearly incompressible magnetohydrodynamic (NI MHD) turbulence coupled with a solar wind model that includes electron pressure and heat flux. Methods. It is important to note that 60% of the turbulence energy is assigned to proton heating and 40% to electron heating. We use an empirical expression for the electron heat flux. We derived a nonlinear dissipation term for the residual energy that includes both the Alfvén effect and the turbulent small-scale dynamo effect. Similarly, we obtained the NI/slab time-scale in an NI MHD phenomenology to use in the derivation of the nonlinear term that incorporates the Alfvén effect. Results. A detailed comparison between the theoretical model solutions and the fast solar wind measured by PSP and Helios 2 shows that they are consistent. The results show that the nearly incompressible NI/slab turbulence component describes observations of the fast solar wind periods when the solarmore »wind flow is aligned or antialigned with the magnetic field.« less
  4. Abstract

    The Parker Solar Probe (PSP) entered a region of sub-Alfvénic solar wind during encounter 8, and we present the first detailed analysis of low-frequency turbulence properties in this novel region. The magnetic field and flow velocity vectors were highly aligned during this interval. By constructing spectrograms of the normalized magnetic helicity, cross-helicity, and residual energy, we find that PSP observed primarily Alfvénic fluctuations, a consequence of the highly field-aligned flow that renders quasi-2D fluctuations unobservable to PSP. We extend Taylor’s hypothesis to sub- and super-Alfvénic flows. Spectra for the fluctuating forward and backward Elsässer variables (z±, respectively) are presented, showing thatz+modes dominatezby an order of magnitude or more, and thez+spectrum is a power law in frequency (parallel wavenumber)f−3/2(k3/2) compared to the convexzspectrum withf−3/2(k3/2) at low frequencies, flattening around a transition frequency (at which the nonlinear and Alfvén timescales are balanced) tof−1.25at higher frequencies. The observed spectra are well fitted using a spectral theory for nearly incompressible magnetohydrodynamics assuming a wavenumber anisotropykk3/4, that thez+fluctuations experience primarily nonlinear interactions, and that the minorityzfluctuations experience both nonlinear and Alfvénic interactions withz+fluctuations. The density spectrum is a powermore »law that resembles neither thez±spectra nor the compressible magnetic field spectrum, suggesting that these are advected entropic rather than magnetosonic modes and not due to the parametric decay instability. Spectra in the neighboring modestly super-Alfvénic intervals are similar.

    « less
  5. Aims. An interplanetary coronal mass ejection (ICME) event was observed by the Solar Orbiter at 0.8 AU on 2020 April 19 and by Wind at 1 AU on 2020 April 20. Futhermore, an interplanetary shock wave was driven in front of the ICME. Here, we focus on the transmission of the magnetic fluctuations across the shock and we analyze the characteristic wave modes of solar wind turbulence in the vicinity of the shock observed by both spacecraft. Methods. The observed ICME event is characterized by a magnetic helicity-based technique. The ICME-driven shock normal was determined by magnetic coplanarity method for the Solar Orbiter and using a mixed plasma and field approach for Wind. The power spectra of magnetic field fluctuations were generated by applying both a fast Fourier transform and Morlet wavelet analysis. To understand the nature of waves observed near the shock, we used the normalized magnetic helicity as a diagnostic parameter. The wavelet-reconstructed magnetic field fluctuation hodograms were used to further study the polarization properties of waves. Results. We find that the ICME-driven shock observed by Solar Orbiter and Wind is a fast, forward oblique shock with a more perpendicular shock angle at the Wind position. After themore »shock crossing, the magnetic field fluctuation power increases. Most of the magnetic field fluctuation power resides in the transverse fluctuations. In the vicinity of the shock, both spacecraft observe right-hand polarized waves in the spacecraft frame. The upstream wave signatures fall within a relatively broad and low frequency band, which might be attributed to low frequency MHD waves excited by the streaming particles. For the downstream magnetic wave activity, we find oblique kinetic Alfvén waves with frequencies near the proton cyclotron frequency in the spacecraft frame. The frequency of the downstream waves increases by a factor of ∼7–10 due to the shock compression and the Doppler effect.« less