Coherent Events at Ion Scales in the Inner Heliosphere: Parker Solar Probe Observations during the First Encounter

The Parker Solar Probe mission has shown the ubiquitous presence of strong magnetic field deflections, namely switchbacks, during its first perihelion where it was embedded in a highly Alfvenic slow stream. Here, we study the turbulent magnetic fluctuations around ion scales in three intervals characterized by a different switchback activity, identified by the behavior of the magnetic field radial component, B-r. Quiet (B-r does not show significant fluctuations), weakly disturbed (B-r has strong fluctuations but no reversals), and highly disturbed (B-r has full reversals) periods also show different behavior for ion quantities. However, the spectral analysis shows that each stream is characterized by the typical Kolmogorov/Kraichnan power law in the inertial range, followed by a break around the characteristic ion scales. This frequency range is characterized by strong intermittent activity, with the presence of noncompressive coherent events, such as current sheets, vortex-like structures, and wave packets identified as ion cyclotron modes. Although all these events have been detected in the three periods, they have different influences in each of them. Current sheets are dominant in the highly disturbed period, wave packets are the most common in the quiet interval; while, in the weakly disturbed period, a mixture of vortices and wave packets is observed. This work provides an insight into the heating problem in collisionless plasmas, fitting in the context of the new solar missions, and, especially for Solar Orbiter, which will allow an accurate magnetic connectivity analysis to link the presence of different intermittent events to the source region.
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