Electron heat flux in the near-Sun environment

J. S. Halekas, P. L. Whittlesey, D. E. Larson, D. McGinnis, S. D. Bale, M. Berthomier, A. W. Case, B. D.G. Chandran, J. C. Kasper, K. G. Klein, K. E. Korreck, R. Livi, R. J. MacDowall, M. Maksimovic, D. M. Malaspina, L. Matteini, M. P. Pulupa, M. L. Stevens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Aims. We survey the electron heat flux observed by the Parker Solar Probe (PSP) in the near-Sun environment at heliocentric distances of 0.125-0.25 AU. Methods. We utilized measurements from the Solar Wind Electrons Alphas and Protons and FIELDS experiments to compute the solar wind electron heat flux and its components and to place these in context. Results. The PSP observations reveal a number of trends in the electron heat flux signatures near the Sun. The magnitude of the heat flux is anticorrelated with solar wind speed, likely as a result of the lower saturation heat flux in the higher-speed wind. When divided by the saturation heat flux, the resulting normalized net heat flux is anticorrelated with plasma beta on all PSP orbits, which is consistent with the operation of collisionless heat flux regulation mechanisms. The net heat flux also decreases in very high beta regions in the vicinity of the heliospheric current sheet, but in most cases of this type the omnidirectional suprathermal electron flux remains at a comparable level or even increases, seemingly inconsistent with disconnection from the Sun. The measured heat flux values appear inconsistent with regulation primarily by collisional mechanisms near the Sun. Instead, the observed heat flux dependence on plasma beta and the distribution of suprathermal electron parameters are both consistent with theoretical instability thresholds associated with oblique whistler and magnetosonic modes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA15
JournalAstronomy and astrophysics
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021


  • Conduction
  • Instabilities
  • Scattering
  • Solar wind
  • Sun: heliosphere

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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