Articles | Volume 16, issue 2
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 16, 265–273, 2009
https://doi.org/10.5194/npg-16-265-2009

Special issue: Coupling between large and small scale turbulence in space...

Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 16, 265–273, 2009
https://doi.org/10.5194/npg-16-265-2009

  07 Apr 2009

07 Apr 2009

A probabilistic approach to heterogeneity in space plasmas: the case of magnetic field intensity in solar wind

G. Consolini1, B. Bavassano2, and P. De Michelis2 G. Consolini et al.
  • 1INAF-Istituto di Fisica dello Spazio Interplanetario, 00133 Roma, Italy
  • 2Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, 00143 Roma, Italy

Abstract. Since the early 90s it was shown that Probability Distribution Functions (PDFs) of small scale differences (fluctuations) of several quantities in space plasmas display significant departures from Gaussianity. The non-Gaussian shape of PDFs was ascribed to intermittency and discussed in the framework of intermittent MHD turbulence. Here, we put the attention to the PDF of magnetic field intensity instead of its differences showing how the PDF of such quantity in a quiet solar wind can be related with the occurrence of heterogeneity. In detail, we derive the shape of the PDFs by simple statistical considerations based on the concept of subordination in probability theory. An interpretation and a discussion in terms of existing coherent magnetic structures in a mechanical near-equilibrium state are also presented.