Pantellini, Griton & Varella 2015

Rarefaction and compressional standing slow mode structures in Mercury’s magnetosheath: 3D MHD simulations

Authors: Pantellini, Filippo; Griton, Léa; Varela, Jacobo
Publication: Planetary and Space Science, Volume 112, p. 1-9. (P&SS Homepage)

Keywords: MHD simulations, Mercury, Magnetosphere, Slow mode waves
Abstract Copyright: (c) 2015 Elsevier Ltd
DOI: 10.1016/j.pss.2015.04.007

Abstract
We show that slow mode compressional fronts form upstream of the day side magnetopause in MHD simulations of Mercury’s magnetosphere. The strongest compressional fronts are located upstream of the magnetopause with strong magnetic shear. Compressional fronts are crossed by magnetic field lines connecting the interplanetary magnetic field and the planet’s intrinsic field, their role is to bend the magnetic field in the magnetosheath towards the magnetopause. Besides these compressional fronts, already observed in space and theoretically discussed by various authors for the case of the Earth, we observe the formation of a slow mode standing rarefaction wave spatially growing over a substantial fraction of the distance between the bow shock and the magnetopause. The slow mode source region for the rarefaction waves is located in the magnetosheath, near the bow shock’s nose. The generated standing rarefaction waves, however, form even at large distances from the source region along the magnetospheric flanks. They fine-tune the magnetic field line draping and plasma flow around the magnetopause. In ideal MHD the magnetospheres of Mercury, the Earth and the giant planets do closely resemble each other, we therefore expect the mentioned slow mode structures not to be specific to Mercury.

See the paper for the legend of this figure.  (c) 2015 Elsevier Ltd

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