Validity of the Taylor hypothesis for linear kinetic waves in the weakly collisional solar wind

G. G. Howes, K. G. Klein, J. M. Tenbarge

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39 Scopus citations


The interpretation of single-point spacecraft measurements of solar wind turbulence is complicated by the fact that the measurements are made in a frame of reference in relative motion with respect to the turbulent plasma. The Taylor hypothesis - that temporal fluctuations measured by a stationary probe in a rapidly flowing fluid are dominated by the advection of spatial structures in the fluid rest frame - is often assumed to simplify the analysis. But measurements of turbulence in upcoming missions, such as Solar Probe Plus, threaten to violate the Taylor hypothesis, either due to slow flow of the plasma with respect to the spacecraft or to the dispersive nature of the plasma fluctuations at small scales. Assuming that the frequency of the turbulent fluctuations is characterized by the frequency of the linear waves supported by the plasma, we evaluate the validity of the Taylor hypothesis for the linear kinetic wave modes in the weakly collisional solar wind. The analysis predicts that a dissipation range of solar wind turbulence supported by whistler waves is likely to violate the Taylor hypothesis, while one supported by kinetic Alfvén waves is not.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 10 2014
Externally publishedYes



  • solar wind
  • turbulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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