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Journal Articles The Astrophysical journal letters Year : 2022

The Imprint of Intermittent Interchange Reconnection on the Solar Wind

Peter Wyper
C. Devore
S. Antiochos
Aleida Higginson
Roger Scott


Abstract The solar wind is known to be highly structured in space and time. Observations from Parker Solar Probe have revealed an abundance of so-called magnetic switchbacks within the near-Sun solar wind. In this Letter, we use a high-resolution, adaptive-mesh, magnetohydrodynamics simulation to explore the disturbances launched into the solar wind by intermittent/bursty interchange reconnection and how they may be related to magnetic switchbacks. We find that repeated ejection of plasmoid flux ropes into the solar wind produces a curtain of propagating and interacting torsional Alfvénic waves. We demonstrate that this curtain forms when plasmoid flux ropes dynamically realign with the radial field as they are ejected from the current layer and that this is a robust effect of the 3D geometry of the interchange reconnection region. Simulated flythroughs of this curtain in the low corona reveal an Alfvénic patch that closely resembles observations of switchback patches, but with relatively small magnetic field deflections. Therefore, we suggest that switchbacks could be the solar wind imprint of intermittent interchange reconnection in the corona, provided an in situ process subsequently amplifies the disturbances to generate the large deflections or reversals of radial field that are typically observed. That is to say, our results indicate that a combination of low-coronal and inner-heliospheric mechanisms may be required to explain switchback observations.
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insu-04041358 , version 1 (22-03-2023)





Peter Wyper, C. Devore, S. Antiochos, D. Pontin, Aleida Higginson, et al.. The Imprint of Intermittent Interchange Reconnection on the Solar Wind. The Astrophysical journal letters, 2022, 941 (2), pp.L29. ⟨10.3847/2041-8213/aca8ae⟩. ⟨insu-04041358⟩
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