Progress in the study of interplanetary discontinuities

Marcia Neugebauer, Joe Giacalone

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

28 Scopus citations


This paper summarizes some of the recent rebirth of interest in interplanetary discontinuities. Vasquez et al. have developed a new method of searching for discontinuities that allows the study of structures with small angles of rotation. Those discontinuities are consistent with the in situ generation of discontinuities by Alfvénic turbulence. Borovsky has proposed that discontinuities with large rotation angles are the boundaries of flux tubes originating at the Sun. We conclude that both the Sun and turbulence are important sources of interplanetary discontinuities. We also argue that, at least in the slow solar wind, Tsurutani's in-situ generation by phase-steepened Alfvén waves may be a manifestation of exhaust fan reconnection. We furthermore suggest that such reconnection may be responsible for the Walen ratio ([4πρ]1/2|Δv|/|ΔB|) across rotational discontinuities being less than the theoretically predicted value of unity. Whether or not the wind consists of discrete flux tubes rather than being simply discontinuous remains to be determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationTwelfth International Solar Wind Conference
Number of pages4
StatePublished - 2010
Event12th International Solar Wind Conference - Saint-Malo, France
Duration: Jun 21 2009Jun 26 2009

Publication series

NameAIP Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)0094-243X
ISSN (Electronic)1551-7616


Other12th International Solar Wind Conference


  • Interplanetary turbulence
  • Solar sources of solar wind
  • Solar wind discontinuities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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