Articles | Volume 29, issue 11
Regular paper
24 Nov 2011
Regular paper |  | 24 Nov 2011

Velocity-space diffusion of solar wind protons in oblique waves and weak turbulence

E. Marsch and S. Bourouaine

Abstract. The fast solar wind is permeated by all kinds of plasma waves which have a broad range of wavelengths and occur on many different scales. Kinetically, a plasma wave induces ion-wave interactions which can within the quasi-linear theory be described as a diffusion process. The impact this diffusion may have on the shape of the proton velocity distribution function (VDF) is studied. We first analyse theoretically some of the possible kinetic effects of the waves on the ions. Then the model predictions are compared with the detailed in-situ plasma measurements made by the Helios spacecraft on 14 April 1976 at 0.3 AU and found to comply favourably with resonant diffusion of protons in obliquely propagating magnetohydrodynamic waves. In particular, the shape at the edges of the VDFs at positive proton velocities in the wind frame can be well explained by cyclotron-resonant diffusion of the protons in oblique fast magnetoacoustic and Alfvén waves propagating away from the Sun.