Volume 639, July 2020
|Number of page(s)||7|
|Section||The Sun and the Heliosphere|
|Published online||13 July 2020|
Possible instrumental effects on moments computation of the solar wind proton velocity distribution function: Helios observations
National Institute for Astrophysics, Institute for Space Astrophysics and Planetology, Via del Fosso del Cavaliere 100, 00133 Rome, Italy
2 National Institute for Astrophysics, Astrophysical Observatory of Turin, Via Osservatorio 20, 10025 Pino Torinese, Turin, Italy
3 Italian Space Agency, Via del Politecnico snc, 00133 Rome, Italy
Accepted: 23 May 2020
The solar wind is a highly turbulent medium in which most of the energy is carried by Alfvénic fluctuations. These fluctuations have a wide range of scales whose high-frequency tail can be relevant for the sampling techniques commonly used to detect the particle distribution in phase space in situ. We analyze the effect of Alfvénic fluctuations on moments computation of the solar wind proton velocity distribution for a plasma sensor, whose sampling time is comparable or even longer than the typical timescale of the velocity fluctuations induced by these perturbations. In particular, we numerically simulated the sampling procedure used on board Helios 2. We directly employed magnetic field data recorded by the Helios 2 magnetometer, when the s/c was immersed in fast wind during its primary mission to the Sun, to simulate Alfvénic fluctuations. More specifically, we used magnetic field data whose cadence of 4 Hz is considerably higher than that the plasma sensor needed to sample a full velocity distribution function, and we average these data to 1 Hz, which is the spin period of Helios. Density values, which are necessary to build Alfvénic fluctuations at these scales, are not available because the cadence of the Helios plasma data is 40.5 s. The adopted solution is based on the assumption that the available Helios plasma density power spectrum can be extended to the same frequencies as the magnetic field spectrum by extrapolating the power-law fit of the low-frequency range to the frequencies relevant for this study. Surrogate density values in the time domain are then obtained by inverse transforming this spectrum. We show that it cannot be excluded that relevant instrumental effects strongly contribute to generate interesting spectral and kinetic features that have been interpreted in the past literature as exclusively due to physical mechanisms.
Key words: turbulence / Sun: heliosphere / Sun: particle emission / instrumentation: detectors
© ESO 2018
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