Linear Stability in the Inner Heliosphere: Helios Re-evaluated

Kristopher G. Klein, Mihailo Martinović, David Stansby, Timothy S. Horbury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Wave-particle instabilities driven by departures from local thermodynamic equilibrium have been conjectured to play a role in governing solar wind dynamics. We calculate the statistical variation of linear stability over a large subset of Helios I and II observations of the fast solar wind using a numerical evaluation of the Nyquist stability criterion, accounting for multiple sources of free energy associated with protons and helium including temperature anisotropies and relative drifts. We find that 88% of the surveyed intervals are linearly unstable. The median growth rate of the unstable modes is within an order of magnitude of the turbulent transfer rate, fast enough to potentially impact the turbulent scale-to-scale energy transfer. This rate does not significantly change with radial distance, though the nature of the unstable modes, and which ion components are responsible for driving the instabilities, does vary. The effect of ion-ion collisions on stability is found to be significant; collisionally young wind is much more unstable than collisionally old wind, with very different kinds of instabilities present in the two kinds of wind.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number234
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 20 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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