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Conference papers

Structure and dynamics of the umagnetized plasma around comet 67P/CG

Abstract : At distances close enough to the Sun, when comets are characterised by a significant outgassing, the cometary neutral density may become large enough for both the cometary plasma and the cometary gas to be coupled, through ion-neutral and electron-neutral collisions. This coupling enables the formation of an unmagnetised expanding cometary ionosphere around the comet nucleus, also called diamagnetic cavity, within which the solar wind magnetic field cannot penetrate. The instruments of the Rosetta Plasma Consortium (RPC), onboard the Rosetta Orbiter, enable us to better constrain the structure, dynamics and stability of the plasma around comet 67P/CG. Recently, magnetic field measurements (RPC-MAG) have shown the existence of such a diamagnetic region around comet 67P/CG [Götz et al., 2016]. Contrary to a single, large scale, diamagnetic cavity such as what was observed around comet Halley, Rosetta have crossed several diamagnetic structures along its trajectory around comet 67P/CG. Using electron density measurements from the Mutual Impedance Probe (RPC-MIP) during the different diamagnetic cavity crossings, identified by the flux gate magnetometer (RPC-MAG), we map the unmagnetised plasma density around comet 67P/CG. Our aims is to better constrain the structure, dynamics and stability of this inner cometary plasma layer characterised by cold electrons (as witnessed by the Langmuir Probes RPC-LAP). The ionisation ratio in these unmagnetised region(s) is computed from the measured electron (RPC-MIP) and neutral gas (ROSINA/COPS) densities. In order to assess the importance of solar EUV radiation as a source of ionisation, the observed electron density will be compared to a the density expected from an ionospheric model taking into account solar radiation absorption. The crossings of diamagnetic region(s) by Rosetta show that the unmagnetised cometary plasma is particularly homogeneous, compared to the highly dynamical magnetised plasma observed in adjacent magnetised regions. Moreover, during the crossings of multiple, successive diamagnetic region(s) over time scales of tens of minutes or hours, the plasma density is almost identical in the different unmagnetised regions, suggesting that these unmagnetised regions may be a single diamagnetic structure crossed several times by Rosetta.
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https://hal-insu.archives-ouvertes.fr/insu-03573488
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Submitted on : Monday, February 14, 2022 - 5:08:18 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 10, 2022 - 3:24:58 PM

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P. Henri, Xavier Vallières, N. Gilet, R. Hajra, J. Moré, et al.. Structure and dynamics of the umagnetized plasma around comet 67P/CG. American Geophysical Union, 2016, San Francisco, United States. ⟨insu-03573488⟩

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