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Alfvénic versus non-Alfvénic turbulence in the inner heliosphere as observed by Parker Solar Probe

Abstract : Context. Parker Solar Probe (PSP) measures the magnetic field and plasma parameters of the solar wind at unprecedentedly close distances to the Sun. These data provide great opportunities to study the early-stage evolution of magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) turbulence in the solar wind. Aims. In this study, we make use of the PSP data to explore the nature of solar wind turbulence focusing on the Alfvénic character and power spectra of the fluctuations and their dependence on the distance and context (i.e., large-scale solar wind properties), aiming to understand the role that different effects such as source properties, solar wind expansion, and stream interaction might play in determining the turbulent state. Methods. We carried out a statistical survey of the data from the first five orbits of PSP with a focus on how the fluctuation properties at the large MHD scales vary with different solar wind streams and the distance from the Sun. A more in-depth analysis from several selected periods is also presented. Results. Our results show that as fluctuations are transported outward by the solar wind, the magnetic field spectrum steepens while the shape of the velocity spectrum remains unchanged. The steepening process is controlled by the “age” of the turbulence, which is determined by the wind speed together with the radial distance. Statistically, faster solar wind has higher “Alfvénicity,” with a more dominant outward propagating wave component and more balanced magnetic and kinetic energies. The outward wave dominance gradually weakens with radial distance, while the excess of magnetic energy is found to be stronger as we move closer toward the Sun. We show that the turbulence properties can significantly vary from stream to stream even if these streams are of a similar speed, indicating very different origins of these streams. Especially, the slow wind that originates near the polar coronal holes has much lower Alfvénicity compared with the slow wind that originates from the active regions and pseudostreamers. We show that structures such as heliospheric current sheets and velocity shears can play an important role in modifying the properties of the turbulence.
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Submitted on : Monday, September 13, 2021 - 5:10:36 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, October 12, 2021 - 5:20:36 PM

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C. Shi, M. Velli, O. Panasenco, A. Tenerani, V. Réville, et al.. Alfvénic versus non-Alfvénic turbulence in the inner heliosphere as observed by Parker Solar Probe. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2021, 650, pp.A21. ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/202039818⟩. ⟨insu-03342995⟩

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