A 2D vision of the solar wind turbulence at the smallest scale”. Background graphic: ESA/ATG Medialab. Inset: NASA/J. Dorelli

The solar wind is a constant stream of charged particles, magnetic field and radiation released from the outer layer of the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona. How the solar wind plasma is heated is still matter of strong debate. In this study, performed by using magnetic field and plasma data acquired in-situ by the NASA’s spacecraft Wind, we provide clear indications that high-frequency Alfvén waves are dissipated via resonant ion cyclotron scattering, releasing energy across the magnetic field. This process leads the 3D proton velocity distributions to become anisotropic, and thus unstable to the proton cyclotron instability, which then drives the local generation of Ion Cyclotron Waves in the solar wind.

The paper “Ion Cyclotron Waves in Field-aligned Solar Wind Turbulence” has been published here: https://doi.org/10.3847/2041-8213/ab4c44