The Development of Shell-Like Distributions from Newborn Cometary Ions

  1. Thomas J. Birmingham and
  2. Alexander J. Dessler
  1. S. Peter Gary,
  2. Satoshi Hinata,
  3. Christian D. Madland and
  4. Dan Winske

Published Online: 19 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/SP027p0056

Comet Encounters

Comet Encounters

How to Cite

Gary, S. P., Hinata, S., Madland, C. D. and Winske, D. (1988) The Development of Shell-Like Distributions from Newborn Cometary Ions, in Comet Encounters (eds T. J. Birmingham and A. J. Dessler), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D.C.. doi: 10.1029/SP027p0056

Author Information

  1. Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 19 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1988

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875902395

Online ISBN: 9781118668757



  • Electromagnetic fluctuations;
  • Newborn cometary ions;
  • One-dimensional hybrid simulations;
  • Plasma parameters;
  • Solar wind


The evolution of newborn cometary ions that interact self-consistently with the solar wind are studied with one-dimensional hybrid computer simulations. Cometary ions are injected at a constant rate and in a constant direction; the associated free energy leads to growing electromagnetic fluctuations which scatter these ions. At relatively low fluctuating field amplitudes, this scattering leads to shell-like velocity distributions that subtend approximately 4π in solid angle, but have relatively small spread in speed. Shell-like distributions are favored when the ion injection rate is comparatively slow (i.e. thin shells should be observed at relatively large distances from the cometary nucleus), when the injected ion mass is relatively light (i.e. protons develop a thinner shell than oxygen ions), and when the energy density of the fluctuating magnetic fields exhibits linear, rather than exponential, temporal growth.