Exploring the biases of a new method based on minimum variance for interplanetary magnetic clouds
LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, Université PSL, CNRS, Sorbonne Université, Univ. Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, 5 place Jules Janssen, 92195 Meudon, France
2 CONICET, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Instituto de Astronomía y Física del Espacio, CC. 67, Suc. 28, 1428 Buenos Aires, Argentina
3 Universidad de Buenos Aires, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Departamento de Ciencias de la Atmósfera y los Océanos and Departamento de Física, 1428 Buenos Aires, Argentina
4 Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale, UMR8617, Univ. Paris-Sud-CNRS, Université Paris-Saclay, Bâtiment 121, 91405 Orsay Cedex, France
Accepted: 29 August 2018
Context. Magnetic clouds (MCs) are twisted magnetic structures ejected from the Sun and probed by in situ instruments. They are typically modeled as flux ropes (FRs).
Aims. Magnetic field measurements are only available along the 1D spacecraft trajectory. The determination of the FR global characteristics requires the estimation of the FR axis orientation. Among the developed methods, the minimum variance (MV) is the most flexible, and features only a few assumptions. However, as other methods, MV has biases. We aim to investigate the limits of the method and extend it to a less biased method.
Methods. We first identified the origin of the biases by testing the MV method on cylindrical and elliptical models with a temporal expansion comparable to the one observed in MCs. Then, we developed an improved MV method to reduce these biases.
Results. In contrast with many previous publications we find that the ratio of the MV eigenvalues is not a reliable indicator of the precision of the derived FR axis direction. Next, we emphasize the importance of the FR boundaries selected since they strongly affect the deduced axis orientation. We have improved the MV method by imposing that the same amount of azimuthal flux should be present before and after the time of closest approach to the FR axis. We emphasize the importance of finding simultaneously the FR axis direction and the location of the boundaries corresponding to a balanced magnetic flux, so as to minimize the bias on the deduced FR axis orientation. This method can also define an inner flux-balanced sub-FR. We show that the MV results are much less biased when a compromize in size of this sub-FR is achieved.
Conclusions. For weakly asymmetric field temporal profiles, the improved MV provides a very good determination of the FR axis orientation. The main remaining bias is moderate (lower than 6°) and is present mostly on the angle between the flux rope axis and the plane perpendicular to the Sun–Earth direction.
Key words: magnetic fields / Sun: coronal mass ejections (CMEs) / Sun: heliosphere
© ESO 2018
Open Access article, published by EDP Sciences, under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.