Electrostatic solitary waves in the solar wind: Evidence for instability at solar wind current sheets

David M. Malaspina, David L. Newman, Lynn B. Willson, Keith Goetz, Paul J. Kellogg, Kris Kerstin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations

Abstract

A strong spatial association between bipolar electrostatic solitary waves (ESWs) and magnetic current sheets (CSs) in the solar wind is reported here for the first time. This association requires that the plasma instabilities (e.g., Buneman, electron two stream) which generate ESWs are preferentially localized to solar wind CSs. Distributions of CS properties (including shear angle, thickness, solar wind speed, and vector magnetic field change) are examined for differences between CSs associated with ESWs and randomly chosen CSs. Possible mechanisms for producing ESW-generating instabilities at solar wind CSs are considered, including magnetic reconnection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)591-599
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Volume118
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013

Keywords

  • electrostatic waves
  • magnetic discontinuities
  • plasma instabilities
  • solar wind
  • solitary waves

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