A Closer Look at Small-scale Magnetic Flux Ropes in the Solar Wind at 1 au: Results from Improved Automated Detection

Hameedullah Farooki, Sung Jun Noh, Jeongwoo Lee, Haimin Wang, Hyomin Kim, Yasser Abduallah, Jason T.L. Wang, Yu Chen, Sergio Servidio, Francesco Pecora

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1 Scopus citations


Small-scale interplanetary magnetic flux ropes (SMFRs) are similar to ICMEs in magnetic structure, but are smaller and do not exhibit coronal mass ejection plasma signatures. We present a computationally efficient and GPU-powered version of the single-spacecraft automated SMFR detection algorithm based on the Grad-Shafranov (GS) technique. Our algorithm can process higher resolution data, eliminates selection bias caused by a fixed 〈B〉 threshold, has improved detection criteria demonstrated to have better results on an MHD simulation, and recovers full 2.5D cross sections using GS reconstruction. We used it to detect 512,152 SMFRs from 27 yr (1996-2022) of 3 s cadence Wind measurements. Our novel findings are the following: (1) the SMFR filling factor (∼ 35%) is independent of solar activity, distance to the heliospheric current sheet, and solar wind plasma type, although the minority of SMFRs with diameters greater than ∼0.01 au have a strong solar activity dependence; (2) SMFR diameters follow a log-normal distribution that peaks below the resolved range (≳104 km), although the filling factor is dominated by SMFRs between 105 and 106 km; (3) most SMFRs at 1 au have strong field-aligned flows like those from Parker Solar Probe measurements; (4) the radial density (generally ∼1 detected per 106 km) and axial magnetic flux density of SMFRs are higher in faster solar wind types, suggesting that they are more compressed. Implications for the origin of SMFRs and switchbacks are briefly discussed. The new algorithm and SMFR dataset are made freely available.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number42
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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