Enhanced proton parallel temperature inside patches of switchbacks in the inner heliosphere

L. D. Woodham, T. S. Horbury, L. Matteini, T. Woolley, R. Laker, S. D. Bale, G. Nicolaou, J. E. Stawarz, D. Stansby, H. Hietala, D. E. Larson, R. Livi, J. L. Verniero, M. McManus, J. C. Kasper, K. E. Korreck, N. Raouafi, M. Moncuquet, M. P. Pulupa

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24 Citations (Scopus)


Context. Switchbacks are discrete angular deflections in the solar wind magnetic field that have been observed throughout the heliosphere. Recent observations by Parker Solar Probe (PSP) have revealed the presence of patches of switchbacks on the scale of hours to days, separated by ‘quieter’ radial fields. Aims. We aim to further diagnose the origin of these patches using measurements of proton temperature anisotropy that can illuminate possible links to formation processes in the solar corona. Methods. We fitted 3D bi-Maxwellian functions to the core of proton velocity distributions measured by the SPAN-Ai instrument onboard PSP to obtain the proton parallel, Tp;k, and perpendicular, Tp;?, temperature. Results. We show that the presence of patches is highlighted by a transverse deflection in the flow and magnetic field away from the radial direction. These deflections are correlated with enhancements in Tp;k, while Tp;? remains relatively constant. Patches sometimes exhibit small proton and electron density enhancements. Conclusions. We interpret that patches are not simply a group of switchbacks, but rather switchbacks are embedded within a largerscale structure identified by enhanced Tp;k that is distinct from the surrounding solar wind. We suggest that these observations are consistent with formation by reconnection-associated mechanisms in the corona.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL1
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


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