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Detection of Small-Scale Structures in the Dissipation Regime of Solar-Wind Turbulence

Detection of Small-Scale Structures in the Dissipation Regime of Solar-Wind Turbulence

Publication date: 08 November 2012

Authors: Perri, S., et al.

Journal: Phys. Rev. Lett.
Volume: 109
Issue: 19
Page: 191101
Year: 2012

Copyright: American Physical Society

Recent observations of the solar wind have pointed out the existence of a cascade of magnetic energy from the scale of the proton Larmor radius rhop down to the electron Larmor radius rhoe scale. In this Letter we study the spatial properties of magnetic field fluctuations in the solar wind and find that at small scales the magnetic field does not resemble a sea of homogeneous fluctuations, but rather a two-dimensional plane containing thin current sheets and discontinuities with spatial sizes ranging from l>=rhop down to rhoe and below. These isolated structures may be manifestations of intermittency that localize sites of turbulent dissipation. Studying the relationship between turbulent dissipation, reconnection, and intermittency is crucial for understanding the dynamics of laboratory and astrophysical plasmas.

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