Presentation Open Access

Multi-spacecraft characterization of current sheet crossings in the dynamic solar wind

Foster, Natalie

Thesis supervisor(s)

Stevens, Michael; Case, Anthony

The sun releases immense amounts of energy in the form of interplanetary coronal mass ejections (ICMEs) that can propagate through the solar wind towards Earth. Dragged along with it is a superconducting plasma of highly ionized gas that carries a “frozen-in” magnetic field. DSCOVR was recently launched and has joined Wind, ACE, and SOHO at L1 in order to make independent magnetic field measurements of the solar wind. These data, in conjunction with velocity measurements and the DSCOVR Faraday Cup ion spectra, can give us a sense of what shape the current sheets have as they pass through the spacecraft. Magnetic reconnection occurs as a result of the squeezing of opposing field lines to a cusp in a direction perpendicular to the direction of travel, and can continue to occur out to interplanetary distances due to the large amount of energy stored in ICME field lines. In particular, we are interested in high-density pile-up regions where the B-field components change sign during the June 22-23 ICME of this year. With at least three spacecraft, we are able to map the current sheet crossings in the solar wind at snapshots in time through planar timing calculations and minimum variance analysis. The advantages of multi-point and high time resolution plasma measurements will be assessed in determining large scale morphology, and for small scale dynamics of ICMEs, respectively.

Keywords: solar wind, coronal mass ejection, solar magnetic reconnection.

This work is supported under the NSF-REU solar physics program at SAO, grant number AGS-1263241, and Wind MODA (Mission Operations and Data Analysis) at NASA.
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