Volume 630, October 2019
Rosetta mission full comet phase results
|Number of page(s)||9|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||20 September 2019|
Properties of the singing comet waves in the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko plasma environment as observed by the Rosetta mission
Laboratoire de Physique et Chimie de l’Environnement et de l’Espace (LPC2E), UMR7328 CNRS/Université d’Orléans/CNES, Orléans,
2 Laboratoire de Physique des Plasmas, UMR7648 CNRS/Ecole Polytechnique/Sorbonne University/University of Paris-Sud, Paris, France
3 Space Research Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Graz, Austria
4 KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden
5 Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Uppsala, Sweden
6 Technical University of Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany
7 National Atmospheric Research Laboratory, Tirupati, India
Accepted: 29 May 2019
Using in situ measurements from different instruments on board the Rosetta spacecraft, we investigate the properties of the newly discovered low-frequency oscillations, known as singing comet waves, that sometimes dominate the close plasma environment of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. These waves are thought to be generated by a modified ion-Weibel instability that grows due to a beam of water ions created by water molecules that outgass from the comet. We take advantage of a cometary outburst event that occurred on 2016 February 19 to probe this generation mechanism. We analyze the 3D magnetic field waveforms to infer the properties of the magnetic oscillations of the cometary ion waves. They are observed in the typical frequency range (~50 mHz) before the cometary outburst, but at ~20 mHz during the outburst. They are also observed to be elliptically right-hand polarized and to propagate rather closely (~0−50°) to the background magnetic field. We also construct a density dataset with a high enough time resolution that allows us to study the plasma contribution to the ion cometary waves. The correlation between plasma and magnetic field variations associated with the waves indicates that they are mostly in phase before and during the outburst, which means that they are compressional waves. We therefore show that the measurements from multiple instruments are consistent with the modified ion-Weibel instability as the source of the singing comet wave activity. We also argue that the observed frequency of the singing comet waves could be a way to indirectly probe the strength of neutral plasma coupling in the 67P environment.
Key words: comets: general / comets: individual: 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko / plasmas / waves / methods: observational / methods: data analysis
© H. Breuillard et al. 2019
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.
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