Understanding electron heat flux signatures in the solar wind
Pagel, C., Crooker, N.U., Larson, D.E., Kahler, S.W. and Owens, M.J. (2005) Understanding electron heat flux signatures in the solar wind. Journal of Geophysical Research, 110. A01103. ISSN 0148-0227
To link to this item DOI: 10.1029/2004JA010767
Suprathermal electrons (E > 80 eV) carry heat flux away from the Sun. Processes controlling the heat flux are not well understood. To gain insight into these processes, we model heat flux as a linear dependence on two independent parameters: electron number flux and electron pitch angle anisotropy. Pitch angle anisotropy is further modeled as a linear dependence on two solar wind components: magnetic field strength and plasma density. These components show no correlation with number flux, reinforcing its independence from pitch angle anisotropy. Multiple linear regression applied to 2 years of Wind data shows good correspondence between modeled and observed heat flux and anisotropy. The results suggest that the interplay of solar wind parameters and electron number flux results in distinctive heat flux dropouts at heliospheric features like plasma sheets but that these parameters continuously modify heat flux. This is inconsistent with magnetic disconnection as the primary cause of heat flux dropouts. Analysis of fast and slow solar wind regimes separately shows that electron number flux and pitch angle anisotropy are equally correlated with heat flux in slow wind but that number flux is the dominant correlative in fast wind. Also, magnetic field strength correlates better with pitch angle anisotropy in slow wind than in fast wind. The energy dependence of the model fits suggests different scattering processes in fast and slow wind.