Magnetic reconnection may control the ion-scale spectral break of solar wind turbulence

Daniel Vech, Alfred Mallet, Kristopher G. Klein, Justin C. Kasper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The power spectral density of magnetic fluctuations in the solar wind exhibits several power-law-like frequency ranges with a well defined break between approximately 0.1 and 1 Hz in the spacecraft frame. The exact dependence of this break scale on solar wind parameters has been extensively studied but is not yet fully understood. Recent studies have suggested that reconnection may induce a break in the spectrum at a “disruption scale” λD, which may be larger than the fundamental ion kinetic scales, producing an unusually steep spectrum just below the break. We present a statistical investigation of the dependence of the break scale on the proton gyroradius ρi, ion inertial length di, ion sound radius ρs, proton-cyclotron resonance scale ρc and disruption scale λD as a function of β⊥i. We find that the steepest spectral indices of the dissipation range occur when βe is in the range of 0.1-1 and the break scale is only slightly larger than the ion sound scale (a situation occurring 41% of the time at 1 AU), in qualitative agreement with the reconnection model. In this range the break scale shows remarkably good correlation with λD. Our findings suggest that, at least at low βe, reconnection may play an important role in the development of the dissipation range turbulent cascade and causes unusually steep (steeper than -3) spectral indices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Feb 28 2018


  • Magnetic reconnection
  • Plasmas
  • Solar wind
  • Turbulence
  • Waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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