Anterograde Collisional Analysis of Solar Wind Ions

E. Johnson, B. A. Maruca, M. McManus, K. G. Klein, E. R. Lichko, J. Verniero, K. W. Paulson, H. DeWeese, I. Dieguez, R. A. Qudsi, J. Kasper, M. Stevens, B. L. Alterman, L. B.Wilson Iii, R. Livi, A. Rahmati, D. Larson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Owing to its low density and high temperature, the solar wind frequently exhibits strong departures from local thermodynamic equilibrium, which include distinct temperatures for its constituent ions. Prior studies have found that the ratio of the temperatures of the two most abundant ions—protons (ionized hydrogen) and α-particles (ionized helium)—is strongly correlated with the Coulomb collisional age. These previous studies, though, have been largely limited to using observations from single missions. In contrast, this present study utilizes contemporaneous, in situ observations from two different spacecraft at two different distances from the Sun: the Parker Solar Probe (PSP; r = 0.1-0.3 au) and Wind (r = 1.0 au). Collisional analysis, which incorporates the equations of collisional relaxation and large-scale expansion, was applied to each PSP datum to predict the state of the plasma farther from the Sun at r = 1.0 au. The distribution of these predicted α-proton relative temperatures agrees well with that of values observed by Wind. These results strongly suggest that, outside of the corona, relative ion temperatures are principally affected by Coulomb collisions and that the preferential heating of α-particles is largely limited to the corona.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number51
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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