New Preprint ‘Steepening of magnetosonic waves in the inner coma of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko’

1 minute read

Katharina Ostaszewski, Karl-Heinz Glassmeier, Charlotte Goetz, Philip Heinisch, Pierre Henri, Ingo Richter, Martin Rubin, Bruce Tsurutani, and I have published our new preprint Steepening of magnetosonic waves in the inner coma of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

We present a statistical survey of large amplitude, asymmetric plasma, and magnetic field enhancements at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from December 2014 to June 2016. The aim is to provide a general overview of these structures’ properties over the mission duration. At comets, nonlinear wave evolution plays an integral part in the development of turbulence and in particular facilitates the transfer of energy and momentum. As the first mission of its kind, the ESA Rosetta mission was able to study the plasma properties of the inner coma for a prolonged time and during different stages of activity. This enables us to study the temporal evolution of steepened waves and their characteristics. In total, we identified ~70000 events in the magnetic field data by means of machine learning. We observe that the occurrence of wave events is linked to the activity of the comet, where events are primarily observed at high outgassing rates. No clear indications of a relationship between the occurrence rate and solar wind conditions were found. The waves are found to propagate predominantly perpendicular to the background magnetic field, which indicates their compressive nature. Characteristics like amplitude, skewness, and width of the waves were extracted by fitting a skew normal distribution to the magnetic field magnitude of individual events. With increasing massloading the average amplitude of steepened waves decreases while the skewness increases. Using a modified 1D MHD model it was possible to show that such solitary structures can be described by the combination of nonlinear, dispersive, and dissipative effects. By combining the model with observations of amplitude, width, and skewness we obtain an estimate of the effective plasma viscosity in the comet-solar wind interaction region. At 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko steepened waves are of particular importance as they dominate the innermost interaction region for intermediate to high activity.