Patches of Magnetic Switchbacks and Their Origins

Chen Shi, Olga Panasenco, Marco Velli, Anna Tenerani, Jaye L. Verniero, Nikos Sioulas, Zesen Huang, A. Brosius, Stuart D. Bale, Kristopher Klein, Justin Kasper, Thierry Dudok de Wit, Keith Goetz, Peter R. Harvey, Robert J. MacDowall, David M. Malaspina, Marc Pulupa, Davin Larson, Roberto Livi, Anthony CaseMichael Stevens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Parker Solar Probe (PSP) has shown that the solar wind in the inner heliosphere is characterized by the quasi omnipresence of magnetic switchbacks (“switchback” hereinafter), local backward bends of magnetic field lines. Switchbacks also tend to come in patches, with a large-scale modulation that appears to have a spatial scale size comparable to supergranulation on the Sun. Here we inspect data from the first 10 encounters of PSP focusing on different time intervals when clear switchback patches were observed by PSP. We show that the switchbacks modulation, on a timescale of several hours, seems to be independent of whether PSP is near perihelion, when it rapidly traverses large swaths of longitude remaining at the same heliocentric distance, or near the radial-scan part of its orbit, when PSP hovers over the same longitude on the Sun while rapidly moving radially inwards or outwards. This implies that switchback patches must also have an intrinsically temporal modulation most probably originating at the Sun. Between two consecutive patches, the magnetic field is usually very quiescent with weak fluctuations. We compare various parameters between the quiescent intervals and the switchback intervals. The results show that the quiescent intervals are typically less Alfvénic than switchback intervals, and the magnetic power spectrum is usually shallower in quiescent intervals. We propose that the temporal modulation of switchback patches may be related to the “breathing” of emerging flux that appears in images as the formation of “bubbles” below prominences in the Hinode/SOT observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number152
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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