Crossing the heliospheric current sheet

A. Szabo, R. P. Lepping, and D. E. Larson

Laboratory for Extraterrestrial Physics, NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771


The heliospheric current sheet (HCS), the largest coherent structure in the heliosphere, is a wavy surface separating the two opposite magnetic polarity hemispheres of the heliosphere. Joint WIND magnetic field and electron observations near solar minimum conditions and far away from the Earth's bow shock reveal that while sector crossings are usually marked by many (up to dozens of) large field directional discontinuities, in most cases only one of them is a true sector polarity reversal and hence a crossing of the global HCS. Though a number of multiple HCS crossings were identified along with magnetic cloud inclusions, most observations during our analysis interval are consistent with a single HCS surface with significant magnetic field shears nearby it.

Interball and ISTP, 1999