Estimates of Proton and Electron Heating Rates Extended to the Near-Sun Environment

R. Bandyopadhyay, C. M. Meyer, W. H. Matthaeus, D. J. McComas, S. R. Cranmer, J. S. Halekas, J. Huang, D. E. Larson, R. Livi, A. Rahmati, P. L. Whittlesey, M. L. Stevens, J. C. Kasper, S. D. Bale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


A central problem of space plasma physics is how protons and electrons are heated in a turbulent, magnetized plasma. The differential heating of charged species due to dissipation of turbulent fluctuations plays a key role in solar wind evolution. Measurements from previous heliophysics missions have provided estimates of proton and electron heating rates beyond 0.27 au. Using Parker Solar Probe (PSP) data accumulated during the first 10 encounters, we extend the evaluation of the individual rates of heat deposition for protons and electrons to a distance of 0.063 au (13.5 Re) in the newly formed solar wind. The PSP data in the near-Sun environment show different behavior of the electron heat conduction flux from what was predicted from previous fits to Helios and Ulysses data. Consequently, the empirically derived proton and electron heating rates exhibit significantly different behavior than previous reports, with the proton heating becoming increasingly dominant over electron heating at decreasing heliocentric distances. We find that the protons receive about 80% of the total plasma heating at ≈13 Re, slightly higher than the near-Earth values. This empirically derived heating partition between protons and electrons will help to constrain theoretical models of solar wind heating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL28
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Interplanetary physics (827)
  • Interplanetary turbulence (830)
  • Magnetohydrodynamics (1964)
  • Solar coronal heating (1989)
  • Unified Astronomy Thesaurus concepts: Solar wind (1534)


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