Spectral break of the density power spectrum in solar wind turbulence

O. W. Roberts*, Y. Narita, R. Nakamura, Z. Vörös

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

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We use density measurements deduced from spacecraft potential to study the power spectral density (PSD) of compressive fluctuations in the solar wind. Typically, plasma measurements do not have a sufficiently high time resolution to resolve density fluctuations down to ion kinetic scales. However, the calibrated spacecraft potential allows for much higher time resolutions to resolve the spectral break between ion inertial and kinetic ranges. We used fast-survey mode data from Magnetospheric MultiScale when the spacecrafts were in the pristine solar wind. The density spectra's morphology differs from the trace magnetic field fluctuations, with a flattening often occurring between inertial and kinetic ranges. We find that the spectral break of the trace magnetic field fluctuations occurs near the expected frequency for cyclotron resonance or magnetic reconnection. Meanwhile, the spectral break at the start of the ion kinetic range for density fluctuations is often at a higher frequency when compared to the trace magnetic field. We discuss possible interpretations for these observations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL16
Number of pages8
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Magnetic fields
  • Turbulence
  • Waves


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