Articles | Volume 29, issue 10
Ann. Geophys., 29, 1731–1738, 2011

Special issue: Cluster 10th anniversary workshop

Ann. Geophys., 29, 1731–1738, 2011

Regular paper 05 Oct 2011

Regular paper | 05 Oct 2011

Three-dimensional spatial structures of solar wind turbulence from 10 000-km to 100-km scales

Y. Narita1, K.-H. Glassmeier1,2, M. L. Goldstein3, U. Motschmann4,5, and F. Sahraoui6 Y. Narita et al.
  • 1Institut für Geophysik und extraterrestrische Physik, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Mendelssohnstr. 3, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany
  • 2Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung, Max-Planck-Straße 2, 37191 Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany
  • 3Geospace Physics Laboratory, Code 673, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
  • 4Institut für Theoretische Physik, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Mendelssohnstr. 3, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany
  • 5Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Institut für Planetenforschung, Rutherfordstr. 2, 12489 Berlin, Germany
  • 6Laboratoire de Physique des Plasmas Observatoire de Saint-Maur, 4 avenue de Neptune, 94107 Saint-Maur-Des-Fossés, France

Abstract. Using the four Cluster spacecraft, we have determined the three-dimensional wave-vector spectra of fluctuating magnetic fields in the solar wind. Three different solar wind intervals of Cluster data are investigated for this purpose, representing three different spatial scales: 10 000 km, 1000 km, and 100 km. The spectra are determined using the wave telescope technique (k-filtering technique) without assuming the validity of Taylor's frozen-in-flow hypothesis nor are any assumptions made as to the symmetry properties of the fluctuations. We find that the spectra are anisotropic on all the three scales and the power is extended primarily in the directions perpendicular to the mean magnetic field, as might be expected of two-dimensional turbulence, however, the analyzed fluctuations are not axisymmetric. The lack of axisymmetry invalidates some earlier techniques using single spacecraft observations that were used to estimate the percentage of magnetic energy residing in quasi-two-dimensional power. However, the dominance of two-dimensional turbulence is consistent with the relatively long mean free paths of cosmic rays in observed in the heliosphere. On the other hand, the spectra also exhibit secondary extended structures oblique from the mean magnetic field direction. We discuss possible origins of anisotropy and asymmetry of solar wind turbulence spectra.