Prediction of the In Situ Coronal Mass Ejection Rate for Solar Cycle 25: Implications for Parker Solar Probe In Situ Observations

The Parker Solar Probe (PSP) and Solar Orbiter missions are designed to make groundbreaking observations of the Sun and interplanetary space within this decade. We show that a particularly interesting in situ observation of an interplanetary coronal mass ejection (ICME) by PSP may arise during close solar flybys (<0.1 au). During these times, the same magnetic flux rope inside an ICME could be observed in situ by PSP twice, by impacting its frontal part as well as its leg. Investigating the odds of this situation, we forecast the ICME rate in solar cycle 25 based on two models for the sunspot number (SSN): (1) the forecast of an expert panel in 2019 (maximum SSN = 115), and (2) a prediction by McIntosh et al. (2020, maximum SSN = 232). We link the SSN to the observed ICME rates in solar cycles 23 and 24 with the Richardson and Cane list and our own ICME catalog, and calculate that between one and seven ICMEs will be observed by PSP at heliocentric distances <0.1 au until 2025, including 1σ uncertainties. We then model the potential flux rope signatures of such a double-crossing event with the semiempirical 3DCORE flux rope model, showing a telltale elevation of the radial magnetic field component B R , and a sign reversal in the component B N normal to the solar equator compared to field rotation in the first encounter. This holds considerable promise to determine the structure of CMEs close to their origin in the solar corona.
Year of Publication
The Astrophysical Journal
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Date Published