High-Speed Plasma Streams and Magnetic Sectors

  • A. J. Hundhausen
Part of the Physics and Chemistry in Space book series (SPACE, volume 5)


We have already found (III.2) that the “quiet” interplanetary conditions indicative of a structureless coronal expansion are rarely observed in the real solar wind. Mere inspection of solar wind data reveals large variations on a time scale of several days, comparable to the basic scale time of the overall coronal expansion (and thus indicative of phenomena in Class 2 of the classification scheme developed in Chapter II). Autocorrelation analysis of solar wind speed measurements confirms this conclusion. Prominent among these variations is the pattern associated with the high-speed plasma streams (II.3) first identified in the Mariner 2 data of 1962. The apparent recurrence of the streams during the period of Mariner 2 observations suggested that they were long-lived, spatial features that retained their basic identity for longer than a solar rotation. The variations observed in interplanetary space would then result from rotation of this spatial structure past the observer. The polarity of the interplanetary magnetic field has also been found to be organized into unipolar regions with a similar scale size (or time), that are related to the high-speed streams. We will now review the observed physical features of the streams and magnetic regions and discuss models of their solar origin and interplanetary evolution. The influence of high-speed plasma streams on solar wind properties inferred from long-term statistical analysis of observations as well as the role of these streams in the overall transport of mass and energy from the corona will be discussed. Finally, the relationship of the streams to solar activity and the hypothetical “M-regions” will be considered.


Solar Wind Interplanetary Magnetic Field Flow Speed Solar Wind Speed Solar Rotation 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin · Heidelberg 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. J. Hundhausen
    • 1
  1. 1.High Altitude ObservatoryNational Center for Atmospheric ResearchBoulderUSA

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