3D Electric Waveforms of Solar Wind Turbulence

P. J. Kellogg, K. Goetz, S. J. Monson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Electric fields provide the major coupling between the turbulence of the solar wind and particles. A large part of the turbulent spectrum of fluctuations in the solar wind is thought to be kinetic Alfvén waves; however, whistlers have recently been found to be important. In this article, we attempt to determine the mode identification of individual waveforms using the three-dimensional antenna system of the SWaves experiments on the STEREO spacecraft. Samples are chosen using waveforms with an apparent periodic structure, selected visually. The short antennas of STEREO respond to density fluctuations and to electric fields. Measurement of four quantities using only three antennas presents a problem. Methods to overcome or to ignore this difficulty are presented. We attempt to decide whether the waveforms correspond to the whistler mode or the Alfvén mode by using the direction of rotation of the signal. Most of the waveforms are so oblique - nearly linearly polarized - that the direction cannot be determined. However, about one third of the waveforms can be identified, and whistlers and Alfvén waves are present in roughly equal numbers. The selected waveforms are very intense but intermittent and are orders of magnitude stronger than the average, yet their accumulated signal accounts for a large fraction of the average. The average, however, is supposed to be the result of a turbulent mixture of many waves, not short coherent events. This presents a puzzle for future work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 20 2018

Bibliographical note

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© 2018. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


  • plasmas
  • polarization


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