Measurement of the electric fluctuation spectrum of magnetohydrodynamic turbulence

S. D. Bale, P. J. Kellogg, F. S. Mozer, T. S. Horbury, H. Reme

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Magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) turbulence in the solar wind is observed to show the spectral behavior of classical Kolmogorov fluid turbulence over an inertial subrange and departures from this at short wavelengths, where energy should be dissipated. Here we present the first measurements of the electric field fluctuation spectrum over the inertial and dissipative wave number ranges in a β 1 plasma. The k-5/3 inertial subrange is observed and agrees strikingly with the magnetic fluctuation spectrum; the wave phase speed in this regime is shown to be consistent with the Alfvén speed. At smaller wavelengths kρi≥1 the electric spectrum is enhanced and is consistent with the expected dispersion relation of short-wavelength kinetic Alfvén waves. Kinetic Alfvén waves damp on the solar wind ions and electrons and may act to isotropize them. This effect may explain the fluidlike nature of the solar wind.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number215002
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number21
StatePublished - Jun 3 2005


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