Predicting the Structure of the Solar Corona and Inner Heliosphere during <i>Parker Solar Probe</i> \textquoterights First Perihelion Pass

<p>NASA\textquoterights Parker Solar Probe (PSP) spacecraft reached its first perihelion of 35.7 solar radii on 2018 November 5. To aid in mission planning, and in anticipation of the unprecedented measurements to be returned, in late October, we developed a three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) solution for the solar corona and inner heliosphere, driven by the then available observations of the Sun\textquoterights photospheric magnetic field. Our model incorporates a wave-turbulence-driven model to heat the corona. Here, we present our predictions for the structure of the solar corona and the likely in situ measurements that PSP will be returning over the next few months. We infer that, in the days prior to first encounter, PSP was immersed in wind emanating from a well-established, positive-polarity northern polar coronal hole. During the encounter, however, field lines from the spacecraft mapped to a negative-polarity equatorial coronal hole, within which it remained for the entire encounter, before becoming magnetically connected to a positive-polarity equatorial coronal hole. When the PSP data become available, these model results can be used to assist in their calibration and interpretation, and, additionally, provide a global context for interpreting the localized in situ measurements. In particular, we can identify what types of solar wind PSP encountered, what the underlying magnetic structure was, and how complexities in the orbital trajectory can be interpreted within a global, inertial frame. Ultimately, the measurements returned by PSP can be used to constrain current theories for heating the solar corona and accelerating the solar wind.</p>
Year of Publication
The Astrophysical Journal
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Date Published