On quasi-parallel whistler waves in the solar wind

I. Y. Vasko, I. V. Kuzichev, A. V. Artemyev, S. D. Bale, J. W. Bonnell, F. S. Mozer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Recent simulations showed that the whistler heat flux instability, which presumably produces the most of quasi-parallel coherent whistler waves in the solar wind, is not efficient in regulating the electron heat conduction. In addition, recent spacecraft measurements indicated that some fraction of coherent whistler waves in the solar wind may propagate anti-parallel to the electron heat flux, being produced due to a perpendicular temperature anisotropy of suprathermal electrons. We present the analysis of properties of parallel and anti-parallel whistler waves unstable at electron heat fluxes and temperature anisotropies of suprathermal electrons typical of the pristine solar wind. Assuming the electron population consisting of counterstreaming dense thermal core and tenuous suprathermal halo populations, we perform a linear stability analysis to demonstrate that anti-parallel whistler waves are expected to have smaller frequencies, wave numbers, and growth rates compared to parallel whistler waves. The stability analysis is performed over a wide range of parameters of core and halo electron populations. Using the quasi-linear scaling relation, we show that anti-parallel whistler waves saturate at amplitudes of one order of magnitude smaller than parallel whistler waves, which is about 10 - 3 B 0 in the pristine solar wind. The analysis shows that the presence of anti-parallel whistler waves in the pristine solar wind is more likely to be obscured by turbulent magnetic field fluctuations because of lower frequencies and smaller amplitudes compared to parallel whistler waves. The presented results will also be valuable for numerical simulations of the electron heat flux regulation in the solar wind.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number082902
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics


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