Solar wind charge exchange in cometary atmospheres III. Results from the Rosetta mission to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

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Title: Solar wind charge exchange in cometary atmospheres III. Results from the Rosetta mission to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
Authors: Wedlund, CS
Behar, E
Nilsson, H
Alho, M
Kallio, E
Gunell, H
Bodewits, D
Heritier, K
Galand, M
Beth, A
Rubin, M
Altwegg, K
Volwerk, M
Gronoff, G
Hoekstra, R
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Solar wind charge-changing reactions are of paramount importance to the physico-chemistry of the atmosphere of a comet. The ESA/Rosetta mission to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P) provides a unique opportunity to study charge-changing processes in situ. To understand the role of these reactions in the evolution of the solar wind plasma, and interpret the complex in-situ measurements made by Rosetta, numerical or analytical models are necessary. We use an extended analytical formalism describing solar wind charge-changing processes at comets along solar wind streamlines. The model is driven by solar wind ion measurements from the Rosetta Plasma Consortium-Ion Composition Analyzer (RPC-ICA) and neutral density observations from the Rosetta Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis-Comet Pressure Sensor (ROSINA-COPS), as well as charge-changing cross sections of hydrogen and helium particles in a water gas. A mission-wide overview of charge-changing efficiencies at comet 67P is presented. Electron capture cross sections dominate and favor the production of He and H energetic neutral atoms, with fluxes expected to rival those of H+ and He2+ ions. Neutral outgassing rates are retrieved from local RPC-ICA flux measurements, and match ROSINA's estimates very well. From the model, we find that solar wind charge exchange is unable to fully explain the magnitude of the sharp drop of solar wind ion fluxes observed by Rosetta for heliocentric distances below 2.5 AU. This is likely because the model does not take into account the relative ion dynamics and, to a lesser extent, ignore the formation of bow shock-like structures upstream of the nucleus. This work also shows that the ionization by solar EUV radiation and energetic electrons dominates the source of cometary ions, although solar wind contributions may be significant during isolated events.
Issue Date: Oct-2019
Date of Acceptance: 5-Feb-2019
ISSN: 0004-6361
Publisher: EDP Sciences
Journal / Book Title: Astronomy and Astrophysics
Volume: 630
Copyright Statement: © 2019 ESO.
Sponsor/Funder: Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
European Space Agency / Estec
European Space Agency / Estec
Funder's Grant Number: ST/N000692/1
Keywords: Science & Technology
Physical Sciences
Astronomy & Astrophysics
comets: general
comets: individual: 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
instrumentation: detectors
solar wind
methods: analytical
Astronomy & Astrophysics
0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences
Notes: 15 pages, 10 figures
Publication Status: Published
Article Number: A37
Online Publication Date: 2019-09-20
Appears in Collections:Space and Atmospheric Physics
Faculty of Natural Sciences

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