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Energy-angle dispersion of accelerated heavy ions at 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko: Implication in the mass-loading mechanism
Swedish Institute of Space Physics, SE-981 28 Kiruna, Sweden.
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Space Technology. Swedish Institute of Space Physics, SE-981 28 Kiruna, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0177-510x
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Space Technology. Swedish Institute of Space Physics, SE-981 28 Kiruna, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7787-2160
Swedish Institute of Space Physics, SE-981 28 Kiruna, Sweden.
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2017 (English)In: Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, ISSN 0035-8711, E-ISSN 1365-2966, Vol. 469, p. S339-S345Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The Rosetta spacecraft studied the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko for nearly two years. The Ion Composition Analyzer instrument on board Rosetta observed the positive ion distributions in the environment of the comet during the mission. A portion of the comet's neutral coma is expected to get ionized, depending on the comet's activity and position relative to the Sun, and the newly created ions are picked up and accelerated by the solar wind electric field, while the solar wind flow is deflected in the opposite direction. This interaction, known as the mass-loading mechanism, was previously studied by comparing the bulk flow direction of both the solar wind protons and the accelerated cometary ions with respect to the direction of the magnetic and the convective solar wind electric field. In this study, we show that energy-angle dispersion is occasionally observed. We report two types of dispersion: one where the observed motion is consistent with ions gyrating in the local magnetic field and another where the energy-angle dispersion is opposite to that expected from gyration in the local magnetic field. Given that the cometary ion gyro-radius in the undisturbed solar wind magnetic and electric field is expected to be too large to be detected in this way, our observations indicate that the local electric field might be significantly smaller than that of the undisturbed solar wind. We also discuss how the energy-angle dispersion, which is not consistent with gyration, may occur due to spatially inhomogeneous densities and electric fields.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford University Press , 2017. Vol. 469, p. S339-S345
Keywords [en]
comets: individual: 67P, plasmas
National Category
Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology Fusion, Plasma and Space Physics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-102218DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stx1621ISI: 000443940500033Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85048900903OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-102218DiVA, id: diva2:1809016
Available from: 2023-11-01 Created: 2023-11-01 Last updated: 2024-03-07Bibliographically approved

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Behar, EtienneNilsson, Hans

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