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Phys Rev Lett. 2009 Nov 20;103(21):211101. Epub 2009 Nov 16.

Magnetic fluctuation power near proton temperature anisotropy instability thresholds in the solar wind.

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Physics Department and Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, California, USA.


The proton temperature anisotropy in the solar wind is known to be constrained by the theoretical thresholds for pressure-anisotropy-driven instabilities. Here, we use approximately 1x10;{6} independent measurements of gyroscale magnetic fluctuations in the solar wind to show for the first time that these fluctuations are enhanced along the temperature anisotropy thresholds of the mirror, proton oblique firehose, and ion cyclotron instabilities. In addition, the measured magnetic compressibility is enhanced at high plasma beta (beta_{ parallel} greater, similar1) along the mirror instability threshold but small elsewhere, consistent with expectations of the mirror mode. We also show that the short wavelength magnetic fluctuation power is a strong function of collisionality, which relaxes the temperature anisotropy away from the instability conditions and reduces correspondingly the fluctuation power.

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