A kinetic control of the heliospheric interface hydrodynamics of charge-exchanging fluids
Insitute of Astrophysics and Extraterrestrial Research, Bonn University, Auf dem Hügel 71, Bonn, Germany e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Space Research Centre PAS, Bartycka 18A, Warsaw, Poland
Accepted: 4 May 2004
It is well known that the Solar System is presently moving through a partially ionized local interstellar medium. This gives rise to a counter-flow situation requiring a consistent description of behaviour of the two fluids – ions and neutral atoms – which are dynamically coupled by mutual charge exchange processes. Solutions to this problem have been offered in the literature, all relying on the assumption that the proton fluid, even under evidently nonequilibrium conditions, can be expected to stay in a highly-relaxated distribution function given by mono-Maxwellians shifted by the local proton bulk velocity. Here we check the validity of this assumption, calculating on the basis of a Boltzmann-kinetic approach the actually occurring deviations. As we show, especially for low degrees of ionization, , both the H-atoms and protons involved do generate in the heliospheric interface clearly pronounced deviations from shifted Maxwellians with asymmetrically shaped distribution functions giving rise to non-convective transport processes and heat conduction flows. Also in the inner heliosheath region and in the heliotail deviations of the proton distribution from the hydrodynamic one must be expected. This sheds new light on the correctness of current calculations of H-atom distribution functions prevailing in the inner heliosphere and also of the Lyman-α absorption features in stellar spectra due to the presence of the hydrogen wall atoms. Deviations from LTE-functions would be even more pronounced in magnetic interfaces, which via CGL-effects cause temperature anisotropies to arise.
Key words: hydrodynamics / plasmas / Sun: solar wind / ISM: general / Galaxy: solar neighbourhood
© ESO, 2004