Large Amplitude, Low Frequency Plasma Fluctuations at Comet Giacobini-Zinner

  1. Thomas J. Birmingham and
  2. Alexander J. Dessler
  1. J.T. Gosling,
  2. J.R. Asbridge,
  3. S.J. Bame,
  4. M.F. Thomsen and
  5. R.D. Zwickl

Published Online: 19 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/SP027p0121

Comet Encounters

Comet Encounters

How to Cite

Gosling, J.T., Asbridge, J.R., Bame, S.J., Thomsen, M.F. and Zwickl, R.D. (1988) Large Amplitude, Low Frequency Plasma Fluctuations at Comet Giacobini-Zinner, in Comet Encounters (eds T. J. Birmingham and A. J. Dessler), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D.C.. doi: 10.1029/SP027p0121

Author Information

  1. University of California, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87545

Publication History

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

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875902395

Online ISBN: 9781118668757



  • Comet Giacobini-Zinner;
  • Electron density;
  • Large amplitude fluctuations;
  • Low frequency plasma fluctuations;
  • Solar wind


Very large amplitude fluctuations in electron density, temperature, and flow velocity were a prominent aspect of the solar wind interaction with comet Giacobini-Zinner during the ICE encounter in September 1985. These fluctuations were detected at a distance of at least 9×105 km and grew in amplitude as ICE approached the comet, peaking in amplitude 6× 04 km from closest approach. A typical period associated with the fluctuations was ∼2 min, which corresponds to a scale length in the solar wind frame of ∼5×104 km. For the most part these fluctuations appear to be a product of one or more plasma instabilities associated with the solar wind pick up of cometary ions.