Comet-Solar Wind Interaction: Dynamical Length Scales and Models

  1. Thomas J. Birmingham and
  2. Alexander J. Dessler
  1. D.A. Mendis1,
  2. E.J. Smith2,
  3. B.T. Tsurutani2,
  4. J.A. Slavin2,
  5. D.E. Jones3 and
  6. G.L. Siscoe4

Published Online: 19 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/SP027p0145

Comet Encounters

Comet Encounters

How to Cite

Mendis, D.A., Smith, E.J., Tsurutani, B.T., Slavin, J.A., Jones, D.E. and Siscoe, G.L. (1988) Comet-Solar Wind Interaction: Dynamical Length Scales and Models, in Comet Encounters (eds T. J. Birmingham and A. J. Dessler), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D.C.. doi: 10.1029/SP027p0145

Author Information

  1. 1

    Dept of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, and Center for Astrophysics and Space Science, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093

  2. 2

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91109

  3. 3

    Dept. of Physics, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 94601

  4. 4

    Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90024

Publication History

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

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875902395

Online ISBN: 9781118668757



  • Cometary magnetosphere;
  • Cometary neutrals;
  • Comet-solar wind interaction;
  • Dynamical length scales and models;
  • Hydromagnetic turbulence


While the ICE magnetometer measurements at Comet Giacobini-Zinner led to a number of unexpected discoveries such as the intense hydromagnetic turbulence, the large-scale structure of the induced cometary magnetosphere that it delineated was close to theoretical predictions. While the strong draping of the magnetic field lines to form a magnetotail was anticipated, the structure of this magnetotail also indicated the existence of other predicted features. These included a weak shock or compression wave, an ionopause which at least partially impeded the penetration of the solar wind into the cometary ionosphere, and a magnetic barrier region where the magnetic field was piled up ahead of the ionopause. The inferred positions of these features enabled the estimation of the production rate of the neutrals from the nucleus (≈ 4×1028 mols/sec), as well as the strength of the coupling between the inflowing solar wind ions and the outflowing cometary neutrals.