Solar wind travel time



A useful rule of thumb in solar terrestrial studies is that the solar wind travels 4 Earth radii (RE) per minute. Long-term studies of solar wind velocity [e.g., Luhmann et al., 1993; 1994] show that the median velocity is about 420 km/s, corresponding to 3.96 RE min−1. The quartiles are about 370 km/s and 495 km/s, corresponding to 3.48 Re min−1 and 4.66 Re min-1 respectively. This number helps estimate the delays expected when observing a discontinuity at a solar wind monitor; one example is ISEE-3 when it was at the forward libration point (about 60 min). It is also helpful for estimating how much time passes before the dayside magnetosphere is compressed as denser solar wind flows by (about 2.5 min).