As a high-beta feature on scales of hours or less, the heliospheric plasma sheet (HPS) encasing the heliospheric current sheet shows a high degree of variability. A study of 52 sector boundaries identified in electron pitch angle spectrograms in Wind data from 1995 reveals that only half concur with both high-beta plasma and current sheets, as required for an HPS. The remaining half lack either a plasma sheet or current sheet or both. A complementary study of 37 high-beta events reveals that only 5 contain sector boundaries while nearly all (34) contain local magnetic field reversals, however brief. We conclude that high-beta plasma sheets surround current sheets but that most of these current sheets are associated with fields turned back on themselves. The findings are consistent with the hypothesis that high-beta plasma sheets, both at and away from sector boundaries, are the heliospheric counterparts of the small coronal transients observed at the tips of helmet streamers, in which case the proposed mechanism for their release, interchange reconnection, could be responsible for the field inversions.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
American Geophysical Union
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Crooker, N. U., C.-L. Huang, S. M. Lamassa, D. E. Larson, S. W. Kahler, and H. E. Spence (2004),Heliospheric plasma sheets, J. Geophys. Res., 109, A03107, doi:10.1029/2003JA010170.
Copyright 2004 by the American Geophysical Union.