How Well Does the S-Web Theory Predict In-Situ Observations of the Slow Solar Wind?

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Aleida Katherine Young, University of Michigan, AOSS, Ann Arbor, MI, United States, Spiro K Antiochos, NASA GSFC, Silver Spring, MD, United States, Jon Linker, Predictive Science Inc., San Diego, CA, United States and Thomas Zurbuchen, Univ Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, United States
The S-Web theory provides a physical explanation for the origin and properties of the slow solar wind, particularly its composition. The theory proposes that magnetic reconnection along topologically complex boundaries between open and closed magnetic fields on the sun releases plasma from closed magnetic field regions into the solar wind at latitudes away from the heliospheric current sheet. Such a wind would have elevated charge states compared to the fast wind and an elemental composition resembling the closed-field corona. This theory is currently being tested using time-dependent, high-resolution, MHD simulations, however comparisons to in-situ observations play an essential role in testing and understanding slow-wind release mechanisms. In order to determine the relationship between S-Web signatures and the observed, slow solar wind, we compare plasma data from the ACE and Ulysses spacecraft to solutions from the steady-state models created at Predictive Science, Inc., which use observed magnetic field distributions on the sun as a lower boundary condition. We discuss the S-Web theory in light of our results and the significance of the S-Web for interpreting current and future solar wind observations.

This work was supported, in part, by the NASA TR&T and SR&T programs.