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Title: TURBULENCE IN THE SOLAR WIND MEASURED WITH COMET TAIL TEST PARTICLES

By analyzing the motions of test particles observed remotely in the tail of Comet Encke, we demonstrate that the solar wind undergoes turbulent processing enroute from the Sun to the Earth and that the kinetic energy entrained in the large-scale turbulence is sufficient to explain the well-known anomalous heating of the solar wind. Using the heliospheric imaging (HI-1) camera on board NASA's STEREO-A spacecraft, we have observed an ensemble of compact features in the comet tail as they became entrained in the solar wind near 0.4 AU. We find that the features are useful as test particles, via mean-motion analysis and a forward model of pickup dynamics. Using population analysis of the ensemble's relative motion, we find a regime of random-walk diffusion in the solar wind, followed, on larger scales, by a surprising regime of semiconfinement that we attribute to turbulent eddies in the solar wind. The entrained kinetic energy of the turbulent motions represents a sufficient energy reservoir to heat the solar wind to observed temperatures at 1 AU. We determine the Lagrangian-frame diffusion coefficient in the diffusive regime, derive upper limits for the small scale coherence length of solar wind turbulence, compare our results to existing Eulerian-frame measurements,more » and compare the turbulent velocity with the size of the observed eddies extrapolated to 1 AU. We conclude that the slow solar wind is fully mixed by turbulence on scales corresponding to a 1–2 hr crossing time at Earth; and that solar wind variability on timescales shorter than 1–2 hr is therefore dominated by turbulent processing rather than by direct solar effects.« less
Authors:
;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [3]
  1. Southwest Research Institute, 1050 Walnut Street Suite 300, Boulder, CO 80302 (United States)
  2. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Delaware, 217 Sharp Laboratory, Newark, DE 19711 (United States)
  3. Northwestern University, 633 Clark St., Evanston, IL 60208 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22518793
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 812; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; COHERENCE LENGTH; COMETS; COMPARATIVE EVALUATIONS; DIFFUSION; GRAPH THEORY; HELIOSPHERE; KINETIC ENERGY; LAGRANGIAN FUNCTION; SOLAR WIND; SPACE VEHICLES; SUN; TEST PARTICLES; TURBULENCE