A Statistical Study of the Solar Wind Turbulence at Ion Kinetic Scales Using the k-filtering Technique and Cluster Data

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Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Early online date13 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2015
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Plasma turbulence at ion kinetic scales in the solar wind is investigated using the multi-point magnetometer data from the Cluster spacecraft. By applying the k-filtering method, we are able to estimate the full three-dimensional power spectral density P(ωsc, k) at a certain spacecraft frequency ωsc in wavevector (k) space. By using the wavevector at the maximum power in P(ωsc, k) at each sampling frequency ωsc and the Doppler shifted frequency ωpla in the solar wind frame, the dispersion plot ωpla = ωpla(k) is found. Previous studies have been limited to very few intervals and have been hampered by large errors, which motivates a statistical study of 52 intervals of solar wind. We find that the turbulence is predominantly highly oblique to the magnetic field k ⊥ Gt k ∥, and propagates slowly in the plasma frame with most points having frequencies smaller than the proton gyrofrequency ωpla < Ω p . Weak agreement is found that turbulence at the ion kinetic scales consists of kinetic Alfvén waves and coherent structures advected with plasma bulk velocity plus some minor more compressible components. The results suggest that anti-sunward and sunward propagating magnetic fluctuations are of similar nature in both the fast and slow solar wind at ion kinetic scales. The fast wind has significantly more anti-sunward flux than sunward flux and the slow wind appears to be more balanced.


  • solar wind, turbulence, waves