We provide evidence that the sunward-propagating half of the solar wind electron halo distribution evolves without scattering in the inner heliosphere. We assume the particles conserve their total energy and magnetic moment, and perform a ‘Liouville mapping’ on electron pitch angle distributions measured by the Parker Solar Probe SPAN-E instrument. Namely, we show that the distributions are consistent with Liouville’s theorem if an appropriate interplanetary potential is chosen. This potential, an outcome of our fitting method, is compared against the radial profiles of proton bulk flow energy. We find that the inferred potential is responsible for nearly 100 per cent of the proton acceleration in the solar wind at heliocentric distances 0.18-0.79 AU. These observations combine to form a coherent physical picture: the same interplanetary potential accounts for the acceleration of the solar wind protons as well as the evolution of the electron halo. In this picture the halo is formed from a sunward-propagating population that originates somewhere in the outer heliosphere by a yet-unknown mechanism.more » « less
- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- Oxford University Press
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- p. 5135-5144
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Abstract Parker Solar Probe (PSP) observed predominately Alfvénic fluctuations in the solar wind near the Sun where the magnetic field tends to be radially aligned. In this paper, two magnetic-field-aligned solar wind flow intervals during PSP’s first two orbits are analyzed. Observations of these intervals indicate strong signatures of parallel/antiparallel-propagating waves. We utilize multiple analysis techniques to extract the properties of the observed waves in both magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) and kinetic scales. At the MHD scale, outward-propagating Alfvén waves dominate both intervals, and outward-propagating fast magnetosonic waves present the second-largest contribution in the spectral energy density. At kinetic scales, we identify the circularly polarized plasma waves propagating near the proton gyrofrequency in both intervals. However, the sense of magnetic polarization in the spacecraft frame is observed to be opposite in the two intervals, although they both possess a sunward background magnetic field. The ion-scale plasma wave observed in the first interval can be either an inward-propagating ion cyclotron wave (ICW) or an outward-propagating fast-mode/whistler wave in the plasma frame, while in the second interval it can be explained as an outward ICW or inward fast-mode/whistler wave. The identification of the exact kinetic wave mode is more difficult to confirm owing to the limited plasma data resolution. The presence of ion-scale waves near the Sun suggests that ion cyclotron resonance may be one of the ubiquitous kinetic physical processes associated with small-scale magnetic fluctuations and kinetic instabilities in the inner heliosphere.more » « less
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