A Parametric Study of the Solar Wind Interaction with Comets

  1. Alan Johnstone
  1. C. T. Russell1,
  2. G. Le1,
  3. J. G. Luhmann1 and
  4. J. A. Fedder2

Published Online: 26 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM061p0065

Cometary Plasma Processes

Cometary Plasma Processes

How to Cite

Russell, C. T., Le, G., Luhmann, J. G. and Fedder, J. A. (1991) A Parametric Study of the Solar Wind Interaction with Comets, in Cometary Plasma Processes (ed A. Johnstone), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM061p0065

Author Information

  1. 1

    Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90024-1567

  2. 2

    Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C. 20375

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1991

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900278

Online ISBN: 9781118663660



  • Comets;
  • Space plasmas;
  • Astrophysics


The Naval Research Laboratory's magnetohydrodynamic simulation code is used to simulate the solar wind interaction with comet Halley for two different outgassing rates and several different solar wind states. The magnetic field is more strongly draped for fast solar wind conditions than slow. For higher mass loading rates, the tail becomes wider and contains more magnetic flux. The visual appearance of the comet differs for the case in which the interplanetary magnetic field lies in the plane of the sky from the case when it lies along the line of sight. The ion tail appears shorter in the latter case. Thus variation in the IMF direction can cause significant changes in the appearance of comets. The comet also creates a large momentum flux deficit in the solar wind with a narrow enhanced region within it corresponding to the ion tail.