Small-scale Magnetic Flux Ropes in the First Two Parker Solar Probe Encounters
Small-scale magnetic flux ropes (SFRs) are a type of structure in the solar wind that possess helical magnetic field lines. In a recent report we presented the radial variations of the properties of SFRs from 0.29 to 8 au using in situ measurements from the Helios, Advanced Composition Explorer/WIND (ACE/Wind), Ulysses, and Voyager spacecrafts. With the launch of the Parker Solar Probe (PSP), we extend our previous investigation further into the inner heliosphere. We apply a Grad-Shafranov-based algorithm to identify SFRs during the first two PSP encounters. We find that the number of SFRs detected near the Sun is much less than at larger radial distances, where magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) turbulence may act as the local source to produce these structures. The prevalence of Alfvenic structures significantly suppresses the detection of SFRs at closer distances. We compare the SFR event list with other event identification methods, yielding a dozen well-matched events. The cross-section maps of two selected events confirm the cylindrical magnetic flux-rope configuration. The power-law relation between the SFR magnetic field and heliocentric distances seems to hold down to 0.16 au.
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