Flow pattern of accelerated cometary ions inside and outside the diamagnetic cavity of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

K. Masunaga, H. Nilsson, E. Behar, G. Stenberg Wieser, M. Wieser, C. Goetz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Analyzing data from the Ion Composition Analyzer on board the Rosetta spacecraft, we studied a flow pattern of accelerated cometary ions (40–80 eV) inside and outside the diamagnetic cavity of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P). We found that the accelerated ions are intermittently observed and are ten times more frequently observed outside the cavity than inside, and they mainly flow tailward with an aberration (~20–40°). We suggest that they are accelerated by the tailward polarization electric field upstream of the comet. Because their occurrence frequency becomes lowest near perihelion where the water production rate is highest at 67P, ion-neutral collisions and/or charge exchange may play a role in controlling the occurrence frequency. The aberration pattern is different inside and outside the cavity in the cometocentric solar equatorial (CSEQ) frame but it is consistent in the comet-Sun electric (CSE) frame; the latter is rotated from the CSEQ frame about the comet-Sun line so that the Z-axis is aligned with the local motional electric field. Because the flow pattern of the accelerated ions inside the cavity in the CSE frame is the same as outside, we suggest that the flow pattern inside is determined by the flow outside, depending on the local plasma and magnetic field. Near the CSE polar plane the aberration is in the opposite direction of the motional electric field, while it is in the anti-cometward direction near the CSE equator plane. The aberration in the anti-electric-field direction near the CSE polar plane suggests that the accelerated ions are mass-loaded by local cold cometary ions, just like the mass-loading of the solar wind by cold cometary ions. The cause of the anti-cometward aberration near the CSE equator plane is still unknown, but this may indicate that the tailward-flowing cometary ions are deflected across the upstream boundaries or by an outward-pointing ambipolar electric field.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA43
Number of pages9
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Volume630
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Flow pattern of accelerated cometary ions inside and outside the diamagnetic cavity of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this