Vol 22, No 3

Analysis of the Distribution, Rotation and Scale Characteristics of Solar Wind Switchbacks: Comparison between the First and Second Encounters of Parker Solar Probe

Ming-Ming Meng, Ying D. Liu, Chong Chen, Rui Wang


Abstract The S-shaped magnetic structure in the solar wind formed by the twisting of magnetic field lines is called a switchback, whose main characteristics are the reversal of the magnetic field and the significant increase in the solar wind radial velocity. We identify 242 switchbacks during the first two encounters of Parker Solar Probe. Statistics methods are applied to analyze the distribution and the rotation angle and direction of the magnetic field rotation of the switchbacks. The diameter of switchbacks is estimated with a minimum variance analysis (MVA) method based on the assumption of a cylindrical magnetic tube. We also make a comparison between switchbacks from inside and the boundary of coronal holes. The main conclusions are as follows: (1) the rotation angles of switchbacks observed during the first encounter seem larger than those of the switchbacks observed during the second encounter in general; (2) the tangential component of the velocity inside the switchbacks tends to be more positive (westward) than in the ambient solar wind; (3) switchbacks are more likely to rotate clockwise than counterclockwise, and the number of switchbacks with clockwise rotation is 1.48 and 2.65 times those with counterclockwise rotation during the first and second encounters, respectively; (4) the diameter of switchbacks is about 105 km on average and across five orders of magnitude (103 –107 km).


Keywords ISM: magnetic fields – methods: statistical – (Sun:) solar wind

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