A Multispacecraft Analysis of a Small-Scale Transient Entrained by Solar Wind Streams
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- Rouillard, A.P., Savani, N.P., Davies, J.A. et al. Sol Phys (2009) 256: 307. doi:10.1007/s11207-009-9329-6
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The images taken by the Heliospheric Imagers (HIs), part of the SECCHI imaging package onboard the pair of STEREO spacecraft, provide information on the radial and latitudinal evolution of the plasma compressed inside corotating interaction regions (CIRs). A plasma density wave imaged by the HI instrument onboard STEREO-B was found to propagate towards STEREO-A, enabling a comparison between simultaneous remote-sensing and in situ observations of its structure to be performed. In situ measurements made by STEREO-A show that the plasma density wave is associated with the passage of a CIR. The magnetic field compressed after the CIR stream interface (SI) is found to have a planar distribution. Minimum variance analysis of the magnetic field vectors shows that the SI is inclined at 54° to the orbital plane of the STEREO-A spacecraft. This inclination of the CIR SI is comparable to the inclination of the associated plasma density wave observed by HI. A small-scale magnetic cloud with a flux rope topology and radial extent of 0.08 AU is also embedded prior to the SI. The pitch-angle distribution of suprathermal electrons measured by the STEREO-A SWEA instrument shows that an open magnetic field topology in the cloud replaced the heliospheric current sheet locally. These observations confirm that HI observes CIRs in difference images when a small-scale transient is caught up in the compression region.