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Is the magnetic field in the heliosheath laminar or a turbulent bath of bubbles?

By M. Opher, J. F. Drake, M. Swisdak, K. M. Schoeffler, J. D. Richardson, R. B. Decker and G. Toth


All the current global models of the heliosphere are based on the assumption that the magnetic field in the heliosheath, in the region close to the heliopause is laminar. We argue that in that region the heliospheric magnetic field is not laminar but instead consists of magnetic bubbles. Recently, we proposed that the annihilation of the "sectored" magnetic field within the heliosheath as it is compressed on its approach to the heliopause produces the anomalous cosmic rays and also energetic electrons. As a product of the annihilation of the sectored magnetic field, densely-packed magnetic islands/bubbles are produced. These magnetic islands/bubbles will be convected with the ambient flows as the sector region is carried to higher latitudes filling the heliosheath. We further argue that the magnetic islands/bubbles will develop upstream within the heliosheath. As a result, the magnetic field in the heliosheath sector region will be disordered well upstream of the heliopause. We present a 3D MHD simulation with very high numerical resolution that captures the north-south boundaries of the sector region. We show that due to the high pressure of the interstellar magnetic field a north-south asymmetry develops such that the disordered sectored region fills a large portion of the northern part of the heliosphere with a smaller extension in the southern hemisphere. We suggest that this scenario is supported by the following changes that occur around 2008 and from 2009.16 onward: a) the sudden decrease in the intensity of low energy electrons detected by Voyager 2; b) a sharp reduction in the intensity of fluctuations of the radial flow; and c) the dramatic differences in intensity trends between GCRs at V1 and 2. We argue that these observations are a consequence of V2 leaving the sector region of disordered field during these periods and crossing into a region of unipolar laminar field.Comment: 36 pages, 15 figures, submitted to Ap

Topics: Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1088/0004-637X/734/1/71
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