Plasma properties, switchback patches, and low α-particle abundance in slow Alfvénic coronal hole wind at 0.13 au

Woolley, Thomas, Matteini, Lorenzo, McManus, Michael D, Berčič, Laura, Badman, Samuel T, Woodham, Lloyd D, Horbury, Timothy S, Bale, Stuart D, Laker, Ronan, Stawarz, Julia and Larson, Davin E (2021) Plasma properties, switchback patches, and low α-particle abundance in slow Alfvénic coronal hole wind at 0.13 au. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 508 (1). pp. 236-244. ISSN 0035-8711

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The Parker Solar Probe (PSP) mission presents a unique opportunity to study the near-Sun solar wind closer than any previous spacecraft. During its fourth and fifth solar encounters, PSP had the same orbital trajectory, meaning that solar wind was measured at the same latitudes and radial distances. We identify two streams measured at the same heliocentric distance (∼0.13 au) and latitude (∼–3∘.5⁠) across these encounters to reduce spatial evolution effects. By comparing the plasma of each stream, we confirm that they are not dominated by variable transient events, despite PSP’s proximity to the heliospheric current sheet. Both streams are consistent with a previous slow Alfvénic solar wind study once radial effects are considered, and appear to originate at the Southern polar coronal hole boundary. We also show that the switchback properties are not distinctly different between these two streams. Low α-particle abundance (∼0.6 per cent) is observed in the encounter 5 stream, suggesting that some physical mechanism must act on coronal hole boundary wind to cause α-particle depletion. Possible explanations for our observations are discussed, but it remains unclear whether the depletion occurs during the release or the acceleration of the wind. Using a flux tube argument, we note that an α-particle abundance of ∼0.6 per cent in this low-velocity wind could correspond to an abundance of ∼0.9 per cent at 1 au. Finally, as the two streams roughly correspond to the spatial extent of a switchback patch, we suggest that patches are distinct features of coronal hole wind.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information:TW was supported by STFC grant ST/T506151/10, TSH and LDW by STFC consolidated grant ST/S000364/1. RL was supported by an Imperial College President’s scholarship, JES was supported by the Royal Society University Research Fellowship URF/R1/201286, and LB was supported by STFC Consolidated Grant ST/S000240/1.
Uncontrolled Keywords: magnetic fields, sun, heliosphere, solar wind
Subjects: F300 Physics
F500 Astronomy
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering
Depositing User: Rachel Branson
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2022 16:00
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2022 16:00

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