University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy


Low-frequency Whistler Waves and Shocklets Observed at Quasi-Perpendicular Interplanetary Shocks


by L.B. Wilson III, C. A. Cattell, P. J. Kellogg, K. Goetz, K. Kersten, J. C. Kasper, A. Szabo, and K. Meziane (2009), , J. Geophys. Res., 114, A10106, doi:10.1029/2009JA014376.

We present observations of low-frequency waves (0.25 Hz < f < 10 Hz) at five quasi-perpendicular interplanetary (IP) shocks observed by the Wind spacecraft. Four of the five IP shocks had oblique precursor whistler waves propagating at angles with respect to the magnetic field of 20°–50° and large propagation angles with respect to the shock normal; thus they do not appear to be phase standing. One event, the strongest in our study and likely supercritical, had low-frequency waves consistent with steepened magnetosonic waves called shocklets. The shocklets are seen in association with diffuse ion distributions. Both the shocklets and precursor whistlers are often seen simultaneously with anisotropic electron distributions unstable to the whistler heat flux instability. The IP shock with upstream shocklets showed much stronger electron heating across the shock ramp than the four events without upstream shocklets. These results may offer new insights into collisionless shock dissipation
and wave-particle interactions in the solar wind.