Upstream Waves at Uranus

C. T. Russell, R. P. Lepping and C. W. Smith

Journal of Geophysical Research, A95, 2273-2279 (1990)


Since the Mach number of the solar wind increases with increasing heliocentric distance, the ratio of thermal to magnetic pressure, or beta, of the Uranian magnetosheath is expected to be much higher than in the terrestrial magnetosheath. Consistent with this expectation, the magnetosheat is observed to be extremely turbulent, and many particles may leak back upstream into the solar wind and/or be scattered from the bow shock. In accord with the expected presence of backstreaming particles, waves of the type associated with terrestrial backstreaming particles are seen outbound along the trajectory of Voyager in the preshock solar wind with frequencies close to 0.001 Hz. The wave frequency is close to that expected for upstream waves based on measurements closer to the sun. Upstream from the bow shock, the magnetic field was found to be much weaker than expected from observations in the inner solar system. The cause of this depression is unlikely to be the upstream particles; rather, the cause is probably intrinsic to the solar wind such as reconnection across the heliospheric current sheet.

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