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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 16, 2023
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 28, 2023
  3. Abstract We present analysis of 17,043 proton kinetic-scale current sheets (CSs) collected over 124 days of Wind spacecraft measurements in the solar wind at 11 samples s −1 magnetic field resolution. The CSs have thickness, λ, from a few tens to one thousand kilometers with typical values around 100 km, or within about 0.1–10 λ p in terms of local proton inertial length, λ p . We found that the current density is larger for smaller-scale CSs, J 0 ≈ 6 nAm −2 · ( λ /100 km) −0.56 , but does not statistically exceed a critical value, J Amore », corresponding to the drift between ions and electrons of local Alvén speed. The observed trend holds in normalized units: J 0 / J A ≈ 0.17 · ( λ / λ p ) − 0.51 . The CSs are statistically force-free with magnetic shear angle correlated with CS spatial scale: Δ θ ≈ 19 ° · ( λ / λ p ) 0.5 . The observed correlations are consistent with local turbulence being the source of proton kinetic-scale CSs in the solar wind, while the mechanisms limiting the current density remain to be understood.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2023
  4. Abstract We present a data set and properties of 18,785 proton kinetic-scale current sheets collected over 124 days in the solar wind using magnetic field measurements at 1/11 s resolution aboard the Wind spacecraft. We show that all of the current sheets are in the parameter range where reconnection is not suppressed by diamagnetic drift of the X-line. We argue this necessary condition for magnetic reconnection is automatically satisfied due to the geometry of current sheets dictated by their source, which is the local plasma turbulence. The current sheets are shown to be elongated along the background magnetic field andmore »dependence of the current sheet geometry on local plasma beta is revealed. We conclude that reconnection in the solar wind is not likely to be suppressed or controlled by the diamagnetic suppression condition.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  5. Abstract For more than 12 hr beginning on 2021 January 18, continuous narrowband electrostatic emissions were observed on the Parker Solar Probe near 20 solar radii. The observed <1000 Hz frequencies were well below the local ion-plasma frequency. Surprisingly, the emissions consisted of electrostatic wave packets with shock-like envelopes, appearing repetitively at a ∼1.5 Hz rate. This repetitiveness correlated and was in phase with low-frequency electromagnetic fluctuations. The emissions were associated with simultaneously observed ion beams and conditions favorable for ion-acoustic wave excitation, i.e., Te/Ti ∼ 5. Based on this information and on their velocity estimates of about 100 kmmore »s −1 , these electrostatic emissions are interpreted as ion-acoustic waves. Their observation demonstrates a new regime of instability and evolution of oblique ion-acoustic waves that have not been reported previously in theory or experiment.« less
  6. Abstract A major discovery of Parker Solar Probe (PSP) was the presence of large numbers of localized increases in the radial solar wind speed and associated sharp deflections of the magnetic field—switchbacks (SBs). A possible generation mechanism of SBs is through magnetic reconnection between open and closed magnetic flux near the solar surface, termed interchange reconnection, that leads to the ejection of flux ropes (FRs) into the solar wind. Observations also suggest that SBs undergo merging, consistent with an FR picture of these structures. The role of FR merging in controlling the structure of SBs in the solar wind ismore »explored through direct observations, analytic analysis, and numerical simulations. Analytic analysis reveals key features of the structure of FRs and their scaling with heliocentric distance R, which are consistent with observations and demonstrate the critical role of merging in controlling the structure of SBs. FR merging is shown to energetically favor reductions in the strength of the wrapping magnetic field and the elongation of SBs. A further consequence is the resulting dominance of the axial magnetic field within SBs that leads to the observed characteristic sharp rotation of the magnetic field into the axial direction at the SB boundary. Finally, the radial scaling of the SB area in the FR model suggests that the observational probability of SB identification should be insensitive to R , which is consistent with the most recent statistical analysis of SB observations from PSP.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2023
  7. Abstract The origin of switchbacks in the solar wind is discussed in two classes of theory that differ in the location of the source being either near the transition region near the Sun or in the solar wind itself. The two classes of theory differ in their predictions of the switchback rate (the number of switchbacks observed per hour) as a function of distance from the Sun. To distinguish between these theories, one-hour averages of Parker Solar Probe data were averaged over five orbits to find the following: (1) The hourly averaged switchback rate was independent of distance from themore »Sun. (2) The average switchback rate increased with solar wind speed. (3) The switchback size perpendicular to the flow increased as R , the distance from the Sun, while the radial size increased as R 2 , resulting in an increasing switchback aspect ratio with distance from the Sun. (4) The hourly averaged and maximum switchback rotation angles did not depend on the solar wind speed or distance from the Sun. These results are consistent with switchback formation in the transition region because their increase of tangential size with radius compensates for the radial falloff of their equatorial density to produce switchback rates that are independent of radial distance. This constant switchback rate is inconsistent with an in situ source. The switchback size and aspect ratio, but not their hourly average or maximum rotation angle, increased with radial distance to 100 solar radii. Additionally, quiet intervals between switchback patches occurred at the lowest solar wind speeds.« less
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