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  1. Abstract The SWEAP instrument suite on Parker Solar Probe (PSP) has detected numerous proton beams associated with coherent, circularly polarized, ion-scale waves observed by PSP’s FIELDS instrument suite. Measurements during PSP Encounters 4−8 revealed pronounced complex shapes in the proton velocity distribution functions (VDFs), in which the tip of the beam undergoes strong perpendicular diffusion, resulting in VDF level contours that resemble a “hammerhead.” We refer to these proton beams, with their attendant “hammerhead” features, as the ion strahl. We present an example of these observations occurring simultaneously with a 7 hr ion-scale wave storm and show results from amore »preliminary attempt at quantifying the occurrence of ion-strahl broadening through three-component ion VDF fitting. We also provide a possible explanation of the ion perpendicular scattering based on quasilinear theory and the resonant scattering of beam ions by parallel-propagating, right circularly polarized, fast magnetosonic/whistler waves.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  2. The fourth orbit of Parker Solar Probe (PSP) reached heliocentric distances down to 27.9 R ⊙ , allowing solar wind turbulence and acceleration mechanisms to be studied in situ closer to the Sun than previously possible. The turbulence properties were found to be significantly different in the inbound and outbound portions of PSP’s fourth solar encounter, which was likely due to the proximity to the heliospheric current sheet (HCS) in the outbound period. Near the HCS, in the streamer belt wind, the turbulence was found to have lower amplitudes, higher magnetic compressibility, a steeper magnetic field spectrum (with a spectralmore »index close to –5/3 rather than –3/2), a lower Alfvénicity, and a ‘1∕ f ’ break at much lower frequencies. These are also features of slow wind at 1 au, suggesting the near-Sun streamer belt wind to be the prototypical slow solar wind. The transition in properties occurs at a predicted angular distance of ≈4° from the HCS, suggesting ≈8° as the full-width of the streamer belt wind at these distances. While the majority of the Alfvénic turbulence energy fluxes measured by PSP are consistent with those required for reflection-driven turbulence models of solar wind acceleration, the fluxes in the streamer belt are significantly lower than the model predictions, suggesting that additional mechanisms are necessary to explain the acceleration of the streamer belt solar wind.« less
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  4. Abstract The hot and diffuse nature of the Sun’s extended atmosphere allows it to persist in non-equilibrium states for long enough that wave–particle instabilities can arise and modify the evolution of the expanding solar wind. Determining which instabilities arise, and how significant a role they play in governing the dynamics of the solar wind, has been a decades-long process involving in situ observations at a variety of radial distances. With new measurements from the Parker Solar Probe (PSP), we can study what wave modes are driven near the Sun, and calculate what instabilities are predicted for different models of themore »underlying particle populations. We model two hours-long intervals of PSP/SPAN-i measurements of the proton phase-space density during the PSP’s fourth perihelion with the Sun using two commonly used descriptions for the underlying velocity distribution. The linear stability and growth rates associated with the two models are calculated and compared. We find that both selected intervals are susceptible to resonant instabilities, though the growth rates and kinds of modes driven unstable vary depending on whether the protons are modeled using one or two components. In some cases, the predicted growth rates are large enough to compete with other dynamic processes, such as the nonlinear turbulent transfer of energy, in contrast with relatively slower instabilities at larger radial distances from the Sun.« less
  5. Context. Aims. We systematically search for magnetic flux rope structures in the solar wind to within the closest distance to the Sun of ~0.13 AU, using data from the third and fourth orbits of the Parker Solar Probe. Methods. We extended our previous magnetic helicity-based technique of identifying magnetic flux rope structures. The method was improved upon to incorporate the azimuthal flow, which becomes larger as the spacecraft approaches the Sun. Results. A total of 21 and 34 magnetic flux ropes are identified during the third (21-day period) and fourth (17-day period) orbits of the Parker Solar Probe, respectively. Wemore »provide a statistical analysis of the identified structures, including their relation to the streamer belt and heliospheric current sheet crossing.« less