Ion-driven Instabilities in the Inner Heliosphere. I. Statistical Trends

Mihailo M. Martinović, Kristopher G. Klein, Tereza Ďurovcová, Benjamin L. Alterman

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4 Scopus citations


Instabilities described by linear theory characterize an important form of wave-particle interaction in the solar wind. We diagnose unstable behavior of solar wind plasma between 0.3 and 1 au via the Nyquist criterion, applying it to fits of ∼1.5M proton and α particle Velocity Distribution Functions (VDFs) observed by Helios I and II. The variation of the fraction of unstable intervals with radial distance from the Sun is linear, signaling a gradual decline in the activity of unstable modes. When calculated as functions of the solar wind velocity and Coulomb number, we obtain more extreme, exponential trends in the regions where collisions appear to have a notable influence on the VDF. Instability growth rates demonstrate similar behavior, and significantly decrease with Coulomb number. We find that for a nonnegligible fraction of observations, the proton beam or secondary component might not be detected, due to instrument resolution limitations, and demonstrate that the impact of this issue does not affect the main conclusions of this work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 10 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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