Solar wind interaction with the terrestrial magnetosphere

A study of the flow of the solar wind past the terrestrial magnetosphere is done, using a simplified model in two dimensions describing a planar magnetopause. The theoretical analysis is made through ordinary perturbation technique, using Navier-Stokes and MHD equations. Process of certain interest is magnetic reconnection. By using the perturbation expansion we can get a description of the boundary layer near a reconnection point.

Besides theoretical analysis, numerical analysis is applied on partial differential equations (PDE) describing the flow of the solar wind past the magnetopause. Chebyshev Collocation Method is the current algorithm used.

It is shown that the boundary layer north of the reconnection point is thinner than the layer to the south. In order for steady reconnection to occur, the velocity at the reconnection point must be less than the Alfvén velocity. This means that the area where steady reconnection can occur is limited to the region stretching from the sub-solar point to a distance of about ten earth radii along the magnetopause.

Author: Westerberg, Lars G

Source: Luleå University of Technology

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