3 years ago

Nature of stochastic ion heating in the solar wind: testing the dependence on plasma beta and turbulence amplitude.

Justin C. Kasper, Daniel Vech, Kristopher G. Klein

The solar wind undergoes significant heating as it propagates away from the Sun; the exact mechanisms responsible for this heating are not yet fully understood. We present for the first time a statistical test for one of the proposed mechanisms, stochastic ion heating. We use the amplitude of magnetic field fluctuations near the proton gyroscale as a proxy for the ratio of gyroscale velocity fluctuations to perpendicular (with respect to the magnetic field) proton thermal speed, defined as $\epsilon_p$. Enhanced proton temperatures are observed when $\epsilon_p$ is larger than a critical value ($\sim 0.019 - 0.025$). This enhancement strongly depends on the proton plasma beta ($\beta_{||p}$); when $\beta_{||p} \ll 1$ only the perpendicular proton temperature $T_{\perp}$ increases, while for $\beta_{||p} \sim 1$ increased parallel and perpendicular proton temperatures are both observed. For $\epsilon_p$ smaller than the critical value and $\beta_{||p} \ll 1$ no enhancement of $T_p$ is observed while for $\beta_{||p} \sim 1$ minor increases in $T_{\parallel}$ are measured. The observed change of proton temperatures across a critical threshold for velocity fluctuations is in agreement with the stochastic ion heating model of \citet{chandran2010perpendicular}. We find that $\epsilon_p > \epsilon_{\rm crit}$ in 76\% of the studied periods implying that stochastic heating may operate most of the time in the solar wind at 1 AU.

Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1711.01508

DOI: arXiv:1711.01508v1

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