Magnetic cloud models with bent and oblate cross-section boundaries
Observatoire de Paris, LESIA, UMR 8109 (CNRS), 92195 Meudon Principal Cedex, France e-mail: Pascal.Demoulin@obspm.fr
2 Instituto de Astronomía y Física del Espacio, CONICET-UBA, CC. 67, Suc. 28, 1428 Buenos Aires, Argentina e-mail: email@example.com
3 Departamento de Física, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, 1428 Buenos Aires, Argentina
Accepted: 13 August 2009
Context. Magnetic clouds (MCs) are formed by magnetic flux ropes that are ejected from the Sun as coronal mass ejections. These structures generally have low plasma beta and travel through the interplanetary medium interacting with the surrounding solar wind. Thus, the dynamical evolution of the internal magnetic structure of a MC is a consequence of both the conditions of its environment and of its own dynamical laws, which are mainly dominated by magnetic forces.
Aims. With in-situ observations the magnetic field is only measured along the trajectory of the spacecraft across the MC. Therefore, a magnetic model is needed to reconstruct the magnetic configuration of the encountered MC. The main aim of the present work is to extend the widely used cylindrical model to arbitrary cross-section shapes.
Methods. The flux rope boundary is parametrized to account for a broad range of shapes. Then, the internal structure of the flux rope is computed by expressing the magnetic field as a series of modes of a linear force-free field.
Results. We analyze the magnetic field profile along straight cuts through the flux rope, in order to simulate the spacecraft crossing through a MC. We find that the magnetic field orientation is only weakly affected by the shape of the MC boundary. Therefore, the MC axis can approximately be found by the typical methods previously used (e.g., minimum variance). The boundary shape affects the magnetic field strength most. The measurement of how much the field strength peaks along the crossing provides an estimation of the aspect ratio of the flux-rope cross-section. The asymmetry of the field strength between the front and the back of the MC, after correcting for the time evolution (i.e., its aging during the observation of the MC), provides an estimation of the cross-section global bending. A flat or/and bent cross-section requires a large anisotropy of the total pressure imposed at the MC boundary by the surrounding medium.
Conclusions. The new theoretical model developed here relaxes the cylindrical symmetry hypothesis. It is designed to estimate the cross-section shape of the flux rope using the in-situ data of one spacecraft. This allows a more accurate determination of the global quantities, such as magnetic fluxes and helicity. These quantities are especially important for both linking an observed MC to its solar source and for understanding the corresponding evolution.
Key words: Sun: coronal mass ejections (CMEs) / Sun: magnetic fields / interplanetary medium
© ESO, 2009