Role of Parallel and Oblique Ion-Cyclotron Waves in Heating Ions in an Inhomogeneous Expanding Solar Wind Plasma

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Nataly O Ozak, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel, Leon Ofman, Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, United States; NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States and Adolfo F. Vinas, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Heliophysics Division, Geospace Physics Laboratory, Mail Code 673, Greenbelt, MD, United States
In-situ observations of fast solar wind streams at distances of 0.29 AU and beyond by Helios and recently by MESSENGER, and at ~1 AU by STEREO, ACE, and Wind spacecraft provide direct evidence for the presence of turbulent Alfvén wave spectrum and of left-hand polarized ion-cyclotron waves as well as He++ - proton drift in the solar wind plasma. The waves and the super-Alfvénic drift can produce temperature anisotropies by resonant absorption and perpendicular heating of the ions. Measurements indicate that proton velocity distributions are generally non-Maxwellian with evidence for beams, while remote sensing observations of coronal holes have shown that heavy ions are hotter than protons with a temperature anisotropy greater than one (Ti,perp> Ti,||). In addition to the anisotropy, it is expected that the solar wind will be inhomogeneous on decreasing scales approaching the Sun. Here we use a 2.5 D hybrid code and extend previous work to study the heating of solar wind ions (H+, He+) in an inhomogeneous plasma background. We explore the effects of an initial ion drift and of a turbulent wave spectrum on the perpendicular ion heating and cooling and on the spectrum of the magnetic fluctuations in the inhomogeneous background solar wind. Using the 2D hybrid model we find that inhomogeneities in the plasma generate significant power of oblique waves in the solar wind plasma, in addition to enhanced heating compared to the homogenous solar wind case. We find that the cooling effect due to the solar wind expansion is only significant when sub-Alfvénic drifts are explored. On the other hand, the cooling is not significant in the presence of a super-Alfvénic drift, and it is even less significant when we include an inhomogeneous background density. We are able to reproduce the ion temperature anisotropy seen in observations and previous models and find that small-scale inhomogeneities in the inner heliosphere can have a significant impact on resonant wave ion heating.