Articles | Volume 27, issue 2
20 Feb 2009
 | 20 Feb 2009

Velocity fluctuations in polar solar wind: a comparison between different solar cycles

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

Abstract. The polar solar wind is a fast, tenuous and steady flow that, with the exception of a relatively short phase around the Sun's activity maximum, fills the high-latitude heliosphere. The polar wind properties have been extensively investigated by Ulysses, the first spacecraft able to perform in-situ measurements in the high-latitude heliosphere. The out-of-ecliptic phases of Ulysses cover about seventeen years. This makes possible to study heliospheric properties at high latitudes in different solar cycles. In the present investigation we focus on hourly- to daily-scale fluctuations of the polar wind velocity. Though the polar wind is a quite uniform flow, fluctuations in its velocity do not appear negligible. A simple way to characterize wind velocity variations is that of performing a multi-scale statistical analysis of the wind velocity differences. Our analysis is based on the computation of velocity differences at different time lags and the evaluation of statistical quantities (mean, standard deviation, skewness, and kurtosis) for the different ensembles. The results clearly show that, though differences exist in the three-dimensional structure of the heliosphere between the investigated solar cycles, the velocity fluctuations in the core of polar coronal holes exhibit essentially unchanged statistical properties.