Energy conversion in cometary atmospheres
Hybrid modeling of 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko
Department of Physics, Umeå University,
2 Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB), Brussels, Belgium
3 Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Kiruna, Sweden
4 Department of Physics, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
5 Department of Electronics and Nanoengineering, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland
6 Department of Physics and Technology, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway
7 School of Electrical Engineering, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden
Accepted: 30 May 2018
Aims. We wish to investigate the energy conversion between particles and electromagnetic fields and determine the location where it occurs in the plasma environment of comets.
Methods. We used a hybrid plasma model that included photoionization, and we considered two cases of the solar extreme ultraviolet flux. Other parameters corresponded to the conditions of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko at a heliocentric distance of 1.5 AU.
Results. We find that a shock-like structure is formed upstream of the comet and acts as an electromagnetic generator, similar to the bow shock at Earth that slows down the solar wind. The Poynting flux transports electromagnetic energy toward the inner coma, where newly born cometary ions are accelerated. Upstream of the shock-like structure, we find local energy transfer from solar wind ions to cometary ions. We show that mass loading can be a local process with a direct transfer of energy, but also part of a dynamo system with electromagnetic generators and loads.
Conclusions. The energization of cometary ions is governed by a dynamo system for weak ionization, but changes into a large conversion region with local transfer of energy directly from solar wind protons for high ionization.
Key words: comets: individual: 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko / Sun: UV radiation / solar wind / methods: numerical / plasmas / acceleration of particles
© ESO 2018