Proton entry into the near-lunar plasma wake for magnetic field aligned flow

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Abstract

[1] We report the first observation of protons in the near-lunar (100–200 km from the surface) and deeper (near anti-subsolar point) plasma wake when the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) and solar wind velocity (vsw) are parallel (aligned flow; angle between IMF and vsw≤10°). More than 98% of the observations during aligned flow condition showed the presence of protons in the wake. These observations are obtained by the Solar Wind Monitor sensor of the Sub-keV Atom Reflecting Analyser experiment on Chandrayaan-1. The observation cannot be explained by the conventional fluid models for aligned flow. Back tracing of the observed protons suggests that their source is the solar wind. The larger gyroradii of the wake protons compared to that of solar wind suggest that they were part of the tail of the solar wind velocity distribution function. Such protons could enter the wake due to their large gyroradii even when the flow is aligned to IMF. However, the wake boundary electric field may also play a role in the entry of the protons into the wake.

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