Articles | Volume 23, issue 3
30 Mar 2005
 | 30 Mar 2005

Large-scale velocity fluctuations in polar solar wind

B. Bavassano, R. Bruno, and R. D'Amicis

Abstract. The 3-D structure of the solar wind varies dramatically along the Sun's activity cycle. In the present paper we focus on some properties of the polar solar wind. This is a fast, teneous, and steady flow (as compared to low-latitude conditions) that fills the high-latitude heliosphere at low solar activity. The polar wind has been extensively investigated by Ulysses, the first spacecraft to perform in-situ measurements in the high-latitude heliosphere. Though the polar wind is quite a uniform flow, fluctuations in its velocity do not appear negligible. A simple way to characterize the solar wind structure is that of performing a multi-scale statistical analysis of the wind velocity differences. The occurrence frequency distributions of velocity differences at time lags from 1 to 1024h and the corresponding values of mean, standard deviation, skewness, and kurtosis have been obtained. A comparison with previous results in ecliptic wind at both low and high solar activity has been performed. It comes out that the kind of trend observed in the distributions for changing scale is the same for the different solar wind regimes. Differences between different flows just have an effect on the values of the distribution moments and the scales at which the transition from non-Gaussian to Gaussian-like behaviours occurs. This is typical of systems in which random fluctuations are mixed to coherent structures of some characteristic size, in other words, systems where long-range correlations cannot be neglected.