The local heating of the solar-wind gas during its expansion represents one of the most intriguing problems in space plasma physics and is at present the subject of a relevant scientific effort. The possible mechanisms that could account for local heat production in the interplanetary medium are most likely related to the turbulent character of the solar-wind plasma. Nowadays, many observational and numerical analyses are devoted to the identification of fluctuation channels along which energy is carried from large to short wavelengths during the development of the turbulent cascade; these fluctuation channels establish the link between macroscopic and microscopic scales. In this Letter, by means of a quantitative comparison between in situ measurements in the solar wind from the STEREO spacecraft and numerical results from kinetic simulations, we identify an electrostatic channel of fluctuations that develops along the turbulent cascade in a direction parallel to the ambient magnetic field. This channel appears to be efficient in transferring the energy from large Alfvenic to short electrostatic acoustic-like scales up to a range of wavelengths where it can finally be turned into heat, even when the electron to proton temperature ratio is of the order of unity.

The nonlinear and nonlocal link between macroscopic Alfvénic and microscopic electrostatic scales in the solar wind

VALENTINI, Francesco;Donato S.;CARBONE, Vincenzo;VELTRI, Pierluigi
2014

Abstract

The local heating of the solar-wind gas during its expansion represents one of the most intriguing problems in space plasma physics and is at present the subject of a relevant scientific effort. The possible mechanisms that could account for local heat production in the interplanetary medium are most likely related to the turbulent character of the solar-wind plasma. Nowadays, many observational and numerical analyses are devoted to the identification of fluctuation channels along which energy is carried from large to short wavelengths during the development of the turbulent cascade; these fluctuation channels establish the link between macroscopic and microscopic scales. In this Letter, by means of a quantitative comparison between in situ measurements in the solar wind from the STEREO spacecraft and numerical results from kinetic simulations, we identify an electrostatic channel of fluctuations that develops along the turbulent cascade in a direction parallel to the ambient magnetic field. This channel appears to be efficient in transferring the energy from large Alfvenic to short electrostatic acoustic-like scales up to a range of wavelengths where it can finally be turned into heat, even when the electron to proton temperature ratio is of the order of unity.
ION-ACOUSTIC WAVES; Electrostatic fluctuations; Turbulence
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11770/139177
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