Observations of a Solar Energetic Particle Event From Inside and Outside the Coma of Comet 67P

A. Wellbrock*, G. H. Jones, N. Dresing, A. J. Coates, C. Simon Wedlund, H. Nilsson, B. Sanchez-Cano, E. Palmerio, L. Turc, M. Myllys, P. Henri, C. Goetz, O. Witasse, T. A. Nordheim, K. Mandt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


We analyze observations of a solar energetic particle (SEP) event at Rosetta's target comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko during 6–10 March 2015. The comet was 2.15 AU from the Sun, with the Rosetta spacecraft approximately 70 km from the nucleus placing it deep inside the comet's coma and allowing us to study its response. The Eastern flank of an interplanetary coronal mass ejection (ICME) also encountered Rosetta on 6 and 7 March. Rosetta Plasma Consortium data indicate increases in ionization rates, and cometary water group pickup ions exceeding 1 keV. Increased charge exchange reactions between solar wind ions and cometary neutrals also indicate increased upstream neutral populations consistent with enhanced SEP induced surface activity. In addition, the most intense parts of the event coincide with observations interpreted as an infant cometary bow shock, indicating that the SEPs may have enhanced the formation and/or intensified the observations. These solar transient events may also have pushed the cometopause closer to the nucleus. We track and discuss characteristics of the SEP event using remote observations by SOHO, WIND, and GOES at the Sun, in situ measurements at Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory Ahead, Mars and Rosetta, and ENLIL modeling. Based on its relatively prolonged duration, gradual and anisotropic nature, and broad angular spread in the heliosphere, we determine the main particle acceleration source to be a distant ICME which emerged from the Sun on 6 March 2015 and was detected locally in the Martian ionosphere but was never encountered by 67P directly. The ICME's shock produced SEPs for several days which traveled to the in situ observation sites via magnetic field line connections.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2022JA030398
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number12
Early online date25 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Observations of a Solar Energetic Particle Event From Inside and Outside the Coma of Comet 67P'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this