HAO Colloquium - Samantha Wallace, GSFC

Understanding solar wind formation by identifying the origins of in situ observations 

Authors: S. Wallace, C.N. Arge, N.M. Viall, S. Di Matteo, S.I Jones

Solar wind formation can be separated into three physical steps – source, release, and acceleration -- that each leave distinct observational signatures on plasma parcels.  The Wang-Sheeley-Arge (WSA) model driven by Air Force Data Assimilative Photospheric Flux Transport (ADAPT) time-dependent photospheric field maps now has the ability to connect in situ observations more rigorously to their precise source at the Sun, allowing us to investigate the physical processes involved in solar wind formation.   In this talk, I will highlight my PhD dissertation research in which we use the ADAPT-WSA model to either characterize the solar wind emerging from specific sources, or investigate the formation process of various solar wind populations.  In the first study, we test the well-known inverse relationship between expansion factor (fs) and observed solar wind speed (vobs) for solar wind that emerges from a large sampling of pseudostreamers, to investigate if field line expansion plays a physical role in accelerating the solar wind from this source region.  We find that there is no correlation between fs and vobs at pseudostreamer cusps. In the second study, we determine the source locations of the first identified quasiperiodic density structures (PDSs) inside 0.6 au. Our modeling provides confirmation of these events forming via magnetic reconnection both near to and far from the heliospheric current sheet (HCS) -- a direct test of the Separatrix-web (S-web) theory of slow solar wind formation.  In the final study, we use our methodology to identify the source regions of the first observations from the Parker Solar Probe (PSP) mission.  Our modeling provided confirmation that the closest to the Sun observed coronal mass ejection (CME) to date was a streamer blowout.  We close with future ways that ADAPT-WSA can be used to test outstanding questions of solar wind formation.

Date and time: 
Wednesday, January 27, 2021 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm