Physical interpretation of the angle-dependent magnetic helicity spectrum in the solar wind: The nature of turbulent fluctuations near the proton gyroradius scale

Kristopher G. Klein, Gregory G. Howes, Jason M. Tenbarge, John J. Podesta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations

Abstract

Motivated by recent observations of distinct parallel and perpendicular signatures in magnetic helicity measurements segregated by wave period and angle between the local magnetic field and the solar wind velocity, this paper undertakes a comparison of three intervals of Ulysses data with synthetic time series generated from a physically motivated turbulence model. From these comparisons, it is hypothesized that the observed signatures result from a perpendicular cascade of Alfvénic fluctuations and a local, non-turbulent population of ion-cyclotron or whistler waves generated by temperature anisotropy instabilities. By constraining the model's free parameters through comparison to in situ data, it is found that, on average, ∼95% of the power near dissipative scales is contained in a perpendicular Alfvénic cascade and that the parallel fluctuations are propagating nearly unidirectionally. The effects of aliasing on magnetic helicity measurements are considered and shown to be significant near the Nyquist frequency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number138
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume785
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 20 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • plasmas
  • solar wind
  • turbulence
  • waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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