Ion-scale Electromagnetic Waves in the Inner Heliosphere

Trevor A. Bowen, Alfred Mallet, Jia Huang, Kristopher G. Klein, David M. Malaspina, Michael Stevens, Stuart D. Bale, J. W. Bonnell, Anthony W. Case, Benjamin D.G. Chandran, C. C. Chaston, Christopher H.K. Chen, Thierry Dudokde Wit, Keith Goetz, Peter R. Harvey, Gregory G. Howes, J. C. Kasper, Kelly E. Korreck, Davin Larson, Roberto LiviRobert J. MacDowall, Michael D. McManus, Marc Pulupa, J. L. Verniero, Phyllis Whittlesey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Understanding the physical processes in the solar wind and corona that actively contribute to heating, acceleration, and dissipation is a primary objective of NASA's Parker Solar Probe (PSP) mission. Observations of circularly polarized electromagnetic waves at ion scales suggest that cyclotron resonance and wave-particle interactions are dynamically relevant in the inner heliosphere. A wavelet-based statistical study of circularly polarized events in the first perihelion encounter of PSP demonstrates that transverse electromagnetic waves at ion resonant scales are observed in 30-50% of radial field intervals. Average wave amplitudes of approximately 4 nT are measured, while the mean duration of wave events is on the order of 20 s; however, long-duration wave events can exist without interruption on hour-long timescales. Determination of wave vectors suggests propagation parallel/antiparallel to the mean magnetic field. Though ion-scale waves are preferentially observed during intervals with a radial mean magnetic field, we show that measurement constraints, associated with single spacecraft sampling of quasi-parallel waves superposed with anisotropic turbulence, render the measured coherent ion-wave spectrum unobservable when the mean magnetic field is oblique to the solar wind flow; these results imply that the occurrence of coherent ion-scale waves is not limited to a radial field configuration. The lack of radial scaling of characteristic wave amplitudes and duration suggests that the waves are generated in situ through plasma instabilities. Additionally, observations of proton distribution functions indicate that temperature anisotropy may drive the observed ion-scale waves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number66
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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