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Mass loading of the solar wind by a sungrazing comet

AuthorRasca, A.; Oran, R.; anyi, M.;
Keywordsparker solar probe; Solar Probe Plus

Collisionless mass loading was suggested by Biermann et al. (1967) for describing interactions between the solar wind and cometary atmospheres. Recent observations have led to an increased interest in coronal mass loading due to sungrazing comets and collisional debris of sunward migrating interplanetary dust particles. In a previous paper, we presented a 3-D MHD model of the solar corona based on the Block-Adaptive-Tree-Solarwind-Roe-Upwind-Scheme code which includes the interaction of dust with the solar wind. We have shown the impact on the solar wind from abrupt mass loading in the coronal region. We apply the model to a sungrazing cometary source, using ejected dust dynamics to generate tail-shaped mass-loading regions. Results help predict the effects on the solar wind acceleration and composition due to sungrazing comets, such as Comet C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy). We show how these effects may be detected by the upcoming Solar Probe Plus Mission.

Year of Publication2014
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Number of Pages5376-5381
Date Published08/2014