We present an analysis of plasma and magnetic field data acquired by the Ulysses spacecraft on May 1994. Our study is motivated by the result of Poletto et al. (1996) who found some evidence for a peak in the power spectrum of magnetic pressure at a frequency ν ≈ 2 × 10-5 Hz, during that period. A re-evaluation of the plasma pressure power spectrum, on the basis of better data than used in the previous work, gives only marginal evidence for a peak at that frequency. If both spectra had excess power in the same spectral range, one might hypothesize that the Pressure Balanced Structures (PBS) detected in the data trace periodically distributed coronal structures which maintain their identity up to large distances. A careful data analysis, however, shows that this interpretation is hardly tenable. Hence, we consider the alternative hypotheses that the observed PBS are either a bundle of magnetic flux tubes, with no characteristic periodicity, in pressure equilibrium with the ambient, or the manifestation, at large distances, of waves generated close to the Sun. To prove the latter case, we made a test simulation of the evolution with heliocentric distance of an ensemble of Alfvén and slow mode waves, generated close to the Sun, and show that structures similar to those we analyzed may form in the interplanetary medium. Our simulations also seem to show that together with PBS, magnetic holes, frequently observed in the Ulysses data, could also originate from the nonlinear evolution of large amplitude slow waves in quasi-perpendicular propagation. We conclude that the observed PBS most likely arise via an in situ generation mechanism, rather than being remnants of solar structures.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science