Magnetohydrodynamic Perspective on the Disappearance of Mercury’s Bow Shock by Helios Data Exploration

S. H. Lai, Y. H. Yang, W. H. Ip

研究成果: 雜誌貢獻期刊論文同行評審

1 引文 斯高帕斯(Scopus)


In the magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) perspective, the planet’s bow shock would disappear when the fast-mode Mach number (M F) of the solar wind is less than one. Compared to Earth, Mercury is subject to a lower M F solar wind due to its proximity to the Sun, resulting in a higher possibility of the disappearance of its bow shock. To examine the variability of Mercury’s bow shock in response to the solar wind properties, analyses of the observations by the Helios spacecraft at 0.30-0.50 au during 1975-1983, covering solar cycle 21, together with the theoretical solutions and MHD simulations are conducted in this study. Our observational analyses show that more solar wind data with extremely low fast-mode Mach numbers (say, M F ≤ 1.5) are observed during the rising and maximum phases and are characterized by a significantly low proton number density. It is also found that approximately 35% of the extremely low fast-mode Mach number solar wind events (M F ≤ 1.5) occur within the main body of interplanetary coronal mass ejections (ICMEs), while about 58% of them are unrelated to ICMEs. Three of these events are selected to demonstrate that the occurrences of the solar wind with M F ≤ 1.5 may not be necessarily affected by ICMEs. Our theoretical and numerical results indicate that when Mercury encounters the solar wind with M F ≤ 1.5, its bow shock would move farther away, become flattened, and even disappear. Furthermore, our calculations suggest that Mercury’s bow shock would become a slow-mode shock with a concave-upward structure under such extreme solar wind conditions.

期刊Astrophysical Journal
出版狀態已出版 - 1 1月 2024


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