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Multifractal scaling of the kinetic energy flux in solar wind turbulence

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Annales Geophysicae


The geometrical and scaling properties of the energy flux of the turbulent kinetic energy in the solar wind have been studied. Using present experimental technology in solar wind measurements we cannot directly measure the real volumetric dissipation rate, <varepsilon>(t), but are constrained to represent it by its surrogate the energy flux near the dissipation range at the proton gyro scale. There is evidence for the multifractal nature of the so defined dissipation field <varepsilon>(t), a result derived from the scaling exponents of its statistical moments. The generalized dimension D q has been determined and reveals that the dissipation field has a multifractal structure, which is not compatible with a scale-invariant cascade. The related multifractal spectrum f(<alpha>) has been estimated for the first time for MHD turbulence in the solar wind. Its features resemble those obtained for turbulent fluids and other nonlinear multifractal systems. The generalized dimension D q can for turbulence in high-speed streams be fitted well by the functional dependence of the p-model with a comparatively large parameter p1=0.87, indicating a strongly intermittent multifractal energy cascade. The experimental value for D p/3 used in the scaling exponent s(p) of the velocity structure function gives an exponent that can describe some of the observations. The scaling exponent <mu> of the autocorrelation function of <varepsilon>(t) has also been directly evaluated, being 0.37. Finally, the mean dissipation rate was determined, which could be used in solar wind heating models.

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Marsch, E., Tu, CY. & Rosenbauer, H. Multifractal scaling of the kinetic energy flux in solar wind turbulence. Annales Geophysicae 14, 259–269 (1996).

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