Summary of the workshop (written after the workshop)

The observation by NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission of very strong magnetic field fluctuations in the inner heliosphere, leading to strong deflections locally reversing the direction of the field itself, called switchbacks, has attracted considerable attention from the heliophysics and space physics communities.

A recent ISSI workshop brought together solar and solar wind scientists with the objective of better understanding how these structures are formed and how they contribute to solar wind heating, acceleration, and the scattering of energetic particles. Though there remain competing theories for the formation and development of swicthbacks, a major outcome of the workshop was the recognition of role played by small scale energetic magnetic field annihilation (or reconnection) events, exchanging plasma between open and closed fields in the lower corona, that lead to the development of small-scale jets of hot plasma. There is general agreement that these may provide the necessary conditions for the formation of switchbacks in the corona and inner heliosphere. A series of review papers describing the current state of our understanding of switchbacks and the outcomes of the workshop will be published in a dedicated book.



The workshop aims at providing a more comprehensive understanding of the nature and elusive origin of magnetic switchbacks as observed in the inner heliosphere, and their role in structuring the solar corona. Switchbacks have received considerable attention since the Parker Solar Probe Mission has found them to be ubiquitous in the young solar wind (e.g. Wikipedia).

One of the main obstacles to a better understanding of these structures is the need to connect in situ observations of the solar wind (where they are observed) with remote sensing observations of the solar corona and solar surface (where are likely to be generated). Our main objective is to make progress by bringing together two communities of physicists: those with expertise in the solar atmosphere and those studying the solar wind in situ, both from an experimental/observational and theoretical/numerical perspective.

The program will have four sessions :

  1. Switchback properties: what are their main characteristics ?
  2. Switchback origins: what causes them ?
  3. Switchback evolution: how do they evolve dynamically in the solar corona and how do they interact with it ?
  4. Switchback propagation: how do they propagate outside of the solar corona and throughout the heliosphere ?

Each session will be divided into three parts of comparable length :

  • A few overview talks (solicited)
  • A series of focused talks that are directly related to the topic of the session. Each participant is invited to contribute to these short talks
  • A moderator-led discussion

All sessions will be plenary but some time has been allocated as well for splinter sessions.

All participants (with no exceptions!) are invited to give a focused talk, one per session (with the possibility of giving a talk in more than one session). We really want everyone to actively participate in this workshop by sharing their results on switchbacks. These may include observations, simulations, modeling, or just ideas. The length of these short talks will depend on the number of submissions we receive and should be about 5 to 10 minutes, including time for questions. The exact length will be specified in September.

First circular

Second circular