Shear-driven Transition to Isotropically Turbulent Solar Wind Outside the Alfv\ en Critical Zone

<p>Motivated by prior remote observations of a transition from striated\&nbsp;solar\&nbsp;coronal structures to more isotropic "flocculated" fluctuations, we propose that the dynamics of the inner\&nbsp;solar\&nbsp;wind just outside the Alfven critical zone, and in the vicinity of the first beta = 1 surface, is powered by the relative velocities of adjacent coronal magnetic flux tubes. We suggest that large-amplitude flow contrasts are magnetically constrained at lower altitude but shear-driven dynamics are triggered as such constraints are released above the Alfven critical zone, as suggested by global magnetohy drodynamic (MHD) simulations that include self-consistent turbulence transport. We argue that this dynamical evolution accounts for features observed by\&nbsp;Parker\&nbsp;Solar\&nbsp;Probe\&nbsp;(PSP) near initial perihelia, including magnetic "switchbacks," and large transverse velocities that are partially corotational and saturate near the local Alfven speed. Large-scale magnetic increments are more longitudinal than latitudinal, a state unlikely to originate in or below the lower corona. We attribute this to preferentially longitudinal velocity shear from varying degrees of corotation. Supporting evidence includes comparison with a high Mach number three-dimensional compressible MHD simulation of nonlinear shear-driven turbulence, reproducing several observed diagnostics, including characteristic distributions of fluctuations that are qualitatively similar to PSP observations near the first perihelion. The concurrence of evidence from remote sensing observations, in situ measurements, and both global and local simulations supports the idea that the dynamics just above the Alfven critical zone boost low-frequency plasma turbulence to the level routinely observed throughout the explored\&nbsp;solar\&nbsp;system.</p>
Year of Publication
The Astrophysical Journal
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Date Published