Axial Flux Evolution of Small-scale Magnetic Flux Ropes from 0.06 to 10 au

Hameedullah Farooki, Jeongwoo Lee, Francesco Pecora, Haimin Wang, Hyomin Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Small-scale magnetic flux ropes (SMFRs) fill much of the solar wind, but their origin and evolution are debated. We apply our recently developed, improved Grad-Shafranov algorithm for the detection and reconstruction of SMFRs to data from Parker Solar Probe, Solar Orbiter, Wind, and Voyager 1 and 2 to detect events from 0.06 to 10 au. We observe that the axial flux density is the same for SMFRs of all sizes at a fixed heliocentric distance but decreases with distance owing to solar wind expansion. Additionally, using the difference in speed between SMFRs, we find that the vast majority of SMFRs will make contact with others at least once during the 100 hr transit to 1 au. Such contact would allow SMFRs to undergo magnetic reconnection, allowing for processes such as merging via the coalescence instability. Furthermore, we observe that the number of SMFRs with higher axial flux increases significantly with distance from the Sun. Axial flux is conserved under solar wind expansion, but the observation can be explained by a model in which SMFRs undergo turbulent evolution by stochastically merging to produce larger SMFRs. This is supported by the observed log-normal axial flux distribution. Lastly, we derive the global number of SMFRs above 1015 Mx near the Sun to investigate whether SMFRs begin their journey as small-scale solar ejections or are continuously generated within the outer corona and solar wind.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL18
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Volume965
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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