Volume 525, January 2011
|Number of page(s)||10|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||07 December 2010|
Interplanetary magnetic field orientation and the magnetospheres of close-in exoplanets
Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam, An der Sternwarte 16, 14482
2 Institute for Theoretical Physics, TU Braunschweig, Mendelssohnstrasse 3, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany
e-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
3 Institute for Planetary Research, DLR, Berlin, Germany
Accepted: 26 July 2010
The abundance of exoplanets with orbits smaller than that of Mercury most likely implies that there are exoplanets exposed to a quasiparallel stellar-wind magnetic field. Many of the generic features of stellar-wind interaction depend on the existence of a non-zero perpendicular interplanetary magnetic field component. However, for closer orbits the perpendicular component becomes smaller and smaller. The resulting quasiparallel interplanetary magnetic field may imply new types of magnetospheres and interactions not seen in the solar system. We simulate the Venus-like interaction between a supersonic stellar wind and an Earth-sized, unmagnetized terrestrial planet with ionosphere, orbiting a Sun-like star at 0.2 AU. The importance of a quasiparallel stellar-wind interaction is then studied by comparing three simulation runs with different angles between stellar wind direction and interplanetary magnetic field. The plasma simulation code is a hybrid code, representing ions as particles and electrons as a massless, charge-neutralizing adiabatic fluid. Apart from being able to observe generic features of supersonic stellar-wind interaction we observe the following changes and trends when reducing the angle between stellar wind and interplanetary magnetic field 1) that a large part of the bow shock is replaced by an unstable quasiparallel bow shock; 2) weakening magnetic draping and pile-up; 3) the creation of a second, flanking current sheet due to the need for the interplanetary magnetic field lines to connect to almost antiparallel draped field lines; 4) stellar wind reaching deeper into the dayside ionosphere; and 5) a decreasing ionospheric mass loss. The speed of the last two trends seems to accelerate at low angles.
Key words: plasmas / planetary systems / stars: winds, outflows / magnetic fields
© ESO, 2010
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