Angular momentum transport in a multicomponent solar wind with differentially flowing, thermally anisotropic ions

Bo Li, Xing Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (SciVal)
117 Downloads (Pure)


Context. The Helios measurements of the angular momentum flux L of the fast solar wind lead to a tendency for the fluxes associated with individual ion angular momenta of protons and alpha particles, Lp and Lα, to be negative (i.e., in the sense of counter-rotation with the Sun). However, the opposite holds for the slow wind, and the overall particle contribution LP = Lp + Lα tends to exceed the magnetic contribution LM. These two aspects are at variance with previous models. Aims. We examine whether introducing realistic ion temperature anisotropies can resolve this discrepancy. Methods. From a general set of multifluid transport equations with gyrotropic species pressure tensors, we derive the equations governing both the meridional and azimuthal dynamics of outflows from magnetized, rotating stars. The equations are not restricted to radial flows in the equatorial plane but valid for general axisymmetric winds that include two major ion species. The azimuthal dynamics are examined in detail, using the empirical meridional flow profiles for the solar wind, constructed mainly according to measurements made in situ. Results. The angular momentum flux L is determined by the requirement that the solution to the total angular momentum conservation law is unique and smooth in the vicinity of the Alfv´en point, defined as where the combined Alfv´enic Mach number MT = 1. MT has to consider the contributions from both protons and alpha particles. Introducing realistic ion temperature anisotropies may introduce a change of up to 10% in L and up to ∼ 1.8 km s−1 in azimuthal speeds of individual ions between 0.3 and 1 AU, compared with the isotropic case. The latter has strong consequences on the relative importance of LP and LM in the angular momentum budget. Conclusions. However, introducing ion temperature anisotropies cannot resolve the discrepancy between in situ measurements and model computations. For the fast-wind solutions, while in extreme cases LP may become negative, Lp never does. On the other hand, for the slow solar wind solutions examined, LP never exceeds LM, even though LM may be less than the individual ion contribution, since Lp and Lα always have opposite signs for the slow and fast wind alike.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-371
Number of pages11
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 04 Jan 2009


  • Sun: rotation
  • Sun: magnetic fields
  • solar wind
  • stars: rotation
  • stars: winds, outflows


Dive into the research topics of 'Angular momentum transport in a multicomponent solar wind with differentially flowing, thermally anisotropic ions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this