Observations of Rapid Velocity Variations in the Slow Solar Wind

S. A. Hardwick, M. M. Bisi, J. A. Davies, A. R. Breen, R. A. Fallows, R. A. Harrison, C. J. Davis

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The technique of interplanetary scintillation (IPS) is the observation of rapid fluctuations of the radio signal from an astronomical compact source as the signal passes through the ever-changing density of the solar wind. Cross-correlation of simultaneous observations of IPS from a single radio source, received at multiple sites of the European Incoherent SCATter (EISCAT) radio antenna network, is used to determine the velocity of the solar wind material passing over the lines of sight of the antennas. Calculated velocities reveal the slow solar wind to contain rapid velocity variations when viewed on a time-scale of several minutes. Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) Heliospheric Imager (HI) observations of white-light intensity have been compared with EISCAT observations of IPS to identify common density structures that may relate to the rapid velocity variations in the slow solar wind.

We have surveyed a one-year period, starting in April 2007, of the EISCAT IPS observing campaigns beginning shortly after the commencement of full science operations of the STEREO mission in a bid to identify common density structures in both EISCAT and STEREO HI datasets. We provide a detailed investigation and presentation of joint IPS/HI observations from two specific intervals on 23 April 2007 and 19 May 2007 for which the IPS P-Point (point of closest approach of the line of sight to the Sun) was between 72 and 87 solar radii out from the Sun’s centre. During the 23 April interval, a meso-scale (of the order of 105 km or larger) transient structure was observed by HI-1A to pass over the IPS ray path near the P-Point; the observations of IPS showed a micro-scale structure (of the order of 102 km) within the meso-scale transient. Observations of IPS from the second interval, on 19 May, revealed similar micro-scale velocity changes, however, no transient structures were detected by the HIs during that period. We also pose some fundamental thoughts on the slow solar wind structure itself.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSolar Physics
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2013


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