skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00PM ET on Friday, December 15 until 2:00 AM ET on Saturday, December 16 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Title: Study of two interacting interplanetary coronal mass ejections encountered by Solar Orbiter during its first perihelion passage: Observations and modeling
Context. Solar Orbiter, the new-generation mission dedicated to solar and heliospheric exploration, was successfully launched on February 10, 2020, 04:03 UTC from Cape Canaveral. During its first perihelion passage in June 2020, two successive interplanetary coronal mass ejections (ICMEs), propagating along the heliospheric current sheet (HCS), impacted the spacecraft. Aims. This paper addresses the investigation of the ICMEs encountered by Solar Orbiter on June 7−8, 2020, from both an observational and a modeling perspective. The aim is to provide a full description of those events, their mutual interaction, and their coupling with the ambient solar wind and the HCS. Methods. Data acquired by the MAG magnetometer, the Energetic Particle Detector suite, and the Radio and Plasma Waves instrument are used to provide information on the ICMEs’ magnetic topology configuration, their magnetic connectivity to the Sun, and insights into the heliospheric plasma environment where they travel, respectively. On the modeling side, the Heliospheric Upwind eXtrapolation model, the 3D COronal Rope Ejection technique, and the EUropean Heliospheric FORecasting Information Asset (EUHFORIA) tool are used to complement Solar Orbiter observations of the ambient solar wind and ICMEs, and to simulate the evolution and interaction of the ejecta in the inner heliosphere, respectively. Results. Both data analysis and numerical simulations indicate that the passage of two distinct, dynamically and magnetically interacting (via magnetic reconnection processes) ICMEs at Solar Orbiter is a possible scenario, supported by the numerous similarities between EUHFORIA time series at Solar Orbiter and Solar Orbiter data. Conclusions. The combination of in situ measurements and numerical simulations (together with remote sensing observations of the corona and inner heliosphere) will significantly lead to a deeper understanding of the physical processes occurring during the CME-CME interaction.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; more » ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; « less
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Astronomy & Astrophysics
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    We study interplanetary coronal mass ejections (ICMEs) measured by probes at different heliocentric distances (0.3–1 AU) to investigate the propagation of ICMEs in the inner heliosphere and determine how the generic features of ICMEs change with heliospheric distance. Using data from the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER), Venus Express and ACE spacecraft, we analyze with the superposed epoch technique the profiles of ICME substructures, namely, the sheath and the magnetic ejecta. We determine that the median magnetic field magnitude in the sheath correlates well with ICME speeds at 1 AU, and we use this proxy to order the ICMEs at all spacecraft. We then investigate the typical ICME profiles for three categories equivalent to slow, intermediate, and fast ICMEs. Contrary to fast ICMEs, slow ICMEs have a weaker solar wind field at the front and a more symmetric magnetic field profile. We find the asymmetry to be less pronounced at Earth than at Mercury, indicating a relaxation taking place as ICMEs propagate. We also find that the magnetic field intensities in the wake region of the ICMEs do not go back to the pre‐ICME solar wind intensities, suggesting that the effects of ICMEs on the ambient solar wind last longer than the duration of the transient event. Such results provide an indication of physical processes that need to be reproduced by numerical simulations of ICME propagation. The samples studied here will be greatly improved by future missions dedicated to the exploration of the inner heliosphere, such as Parker Solar Probe and Solar Orbiter.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    The magnetic fields of interplanetary coronal mass ejections (ICMEs), which originate close to the Sun in the form of a flux rope, determine their geoeffectiveness. Therefore, robust flux rope‐based models of CMEs are required to perform magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulations aimed at space weather predictions. We propose a modified spheromak model and demonstrate its applicability to CME simulations. In this model, such properties of a simulated CME as the poloidal and toroidal magnetic fluxes, and the helicity sign can be controlled with a set of input parameters. We propose a robust technique for introducing CMEs with an appropriate speed into a background, MHD solution describing the solar wind in the inner heliosphere. Through a parametric study, we find that the speed of a CME is much more dependent on its poloidal flux than on the toroidal flux. We also show that the CME speed increases with its total energy, giving us control over its initial speed. We further demonstrate the applicability of this model to simulations of CME‐CME collisions. Finally, we use this model to simulate the 12 July 2012 CME and compare the plasma properties at 1 AU with observations. The predicted CME properties agree reasonably with observational data.

    more » « less
  3. null (Ed.)
    Since the launch on 2018 August 12, the Parker Solar Probe (PSP) has completed its first five orbits around the Sun, having reached down to ~28 solar radii at perihelion 5 on 2020 June 7. More recently, the Solar Orbiter (SolO) made its first close approach to the Sun at 0.52 AU on 2020 June 15, nearly 4 months after the launch. Using a 3D heliospheric MHD model coupled with the Wang-Sheeley-Arge (WSA) coronal model using the Air Force Data Assimilative Photospheric flux Transport (ADAPT) magnetic maps as input, we simulate the time-varying inner heliosphere, including the trajectories of PSP and SolO, during the current solar minimum period between 2018 and 2020. Above the ADAPT-WSA model outer boundary at 21.5 solar radii, we solve the Reynolds averaged MHD equations with turbulence and pickup ions taken into account and compare the simulation results with the PSP solar wind and magnetic field data, with particular emphasis on the large-scale solar wind structure and magnetic connectivity during each solar encounter. 
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    The activity of the Sun alternates between a solar minimum and a solar maximum, the former corresponding to a period of “quieter” status of the heliosphere. During solar minimum, it is in principle more straightforward to follow eruptive events and solar wind structures from their birth at the Sun throughout their interplanetary journey. In this paper, we report analysis of the origin, evolution, and heliospheric impact of a series of solar transient events that took place during the second half of August 2018, that is, in the midst of the late declining phase of Solar Cycle 24. In particular, we focus on two successive coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and a following high‐speed stream (HSS) on their way toward Earth and Mars. We find that the first CME impacted both planets, whilst the second caused a strong magnetic storm at Earth and went on to miss Mars, which nevertheless experienced space weather effects from the stream interacting region preceding the HSS. Analysis of remote‐sensing and in‐situ data supported by heliospheric modeling suggests that CME–HSS interaction resulted in the second CME rotating and deflecting in interplanetary space, highlighting that accurately reproducing the ambient solar wind is crucial even during “simpler” solar minimum periods. Lastly, we discuss the upstream solar wind conditions and transient structures responsible for driving space weather effects at Earth and Mars.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract Connecting the solar wind observed throughout the heliosphere to its origins in the solar corona is one of the central aims of heliophysics. The variability in the magnetic field, bulk plasma, and heavy ion composition properties of the slow wind are thought to result from magnetic reconnection processes in the solar corona. We identify regions of enhanced variability and composition in the solar wind from 2003 April 15 to May 13 (Carrington Rotation 2002), observed by the Wind and Advanced Composition Explorer spacecraft, and demonstrate their relationship to the separatrix–web (hereafter, S-Web) structures describing the corona’s large-scale magnetic topology. There are four pseudostreamer (PS) wind intervals and two helmet streamer (HS) heliospheric current sheet/plasma sheet crossings (and an interplanetary coronal mass ejection), which all exhibit enhanced alpha-to-proton ratios and/or elevated ionic charge states of carbon, oxygen, and iron. We apply the magnetic helicity–partial variance of increments ( H m –PVI) procedure to identify coherent magnetic structures and quantify their properties during each interval. The mean duration of these structures are ∼1 hr in both the HS and PS wind. We find a modest enhancement above the power-law fit to the PVI waiting-time distribution in the HS-associated wind at the 1.5–2 hr timescales that is absent from the PS intervals. We discuss our results in the context of previous observations of the ∼90 minutes periodic density structures in the slow solar wind, further development of the dynamic S-Web model, and future Parker Solar Probe and Solar Orbiter joint observational campaigns. 
    more » « less