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Origin of Mercury’s double magnetopause: 3D hybrid simulation study with A.I.K.E.F.

Müller, J. and Simon, S. and Wang, Y.-C. and Motschmann, U. and Heyner, D. and Schüle, J. and Ip, W.-H. and Kleindienst, G. and Pringle, G. J. (2012) Origin of Mercury’s double magnetopause: 3D hybrid simulation study with A.I.K.E.F. Icarus: International Journal of Solar System Studies, 218 (1), pp. 666-687. Elsevier. DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2011.12.028.

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Abstract

During the first and second Mercury flyby the MESSENGER spacecraft detected a dawn side double-current sheet inside the Hermean magnetosphere that was labeled the “double magnetopause” (Slavin, J.A. et al. [2008]. Science 321, 85). This double current sheet confines a region of decreased magnetic field that is referred to as Mercury’s “dayside boundary layer” (Anderson, M., Slavin, J., Horth, H. [2011]. Planet. Space Sci.). Up to the present day the double current sheet, the boundary layer and the key processes leading to their formation are not well understood. In order to advance the understanding of this region we have carried out self-consistent plasma simulations of the Hermean magnetosphere by means of the hybrid simulation code A.I.K.E.F. (Müller, J., Simon, S., Motschmann, U., Schüle, J., Glassmeier, K., Pringle, G.J. [2011]. Comput. Phys. Commun. 182, 946–966). Magnetic field and plasma results are in excellent agreement with the MESSENGER observations. In contrast to former speculations our results prove this double current sheet may exist in a pure solar wind hydrogen plasma, i.e. in the absence of any exospheric ions like sodium. Both currents are similar in orientation but the outer is stronger in intensity. While the outer current sheet can be considered the “classical” magnetopause, the inner current sheet between the magnetopause and Mercury’s surface reveals to be sustained by a diamagnetic current that originates from proton pressure gradients at Mercury’s inner magnetosphere. The pressure gradients in turn exist due to protons that are trapped on closed magnetic field lines and mirrored between north and south pole. Both, the dayside and nightside diamagnetic decreases that have been observed during the MESSENGER mission show to be direct consequences of this diamagnetic current that we label Mercury’s “boundary-layer-current“.

Document Type:Article
Title:Origin of Mercury’s double magnetopause: 3D hybrid simulation study with A.I.K.E.F.
Authors:
AuthorsInstitution or Email of Authors
Müller, J.Institute for Theoretical Physics, TU Braunschweig, Mendelssohnstrabe 3, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany
Simon, S.Institute of Geophysics and Meteorology, University of Cologne, Zülpicher Str. 49, 50674 Cologne, Germany
Wang, Y.-C.Institute of Astronomy, National Central University, No. 300, Jhongda Rd, Jhongli City, Taoyuan County 32001, Taiwan, ROC
Motschmann, U.Institute for Theoretical Physics, TU Braunschweig, Mendelssohnstrabe 3, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany; uwe.motschmann@dlr.de
Heyner, D.Institut für Geophysik und Extraterrestrische Physik, TU Braunschweig, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany
Schüle, J.Gauß-IT- Centre, TU Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany
Ip, W.-H.Institute of Astronomy, National Central University, No. 300, Jhongda Rd, Jhongli City, Taoyuan County 32001, Taiwan, ROC; Institute of Space Science, National Central University, No. 300, Jhongda Rd, Jhongli City, Taoyuan County 32001, Taiwan, ROC
Kleindienst, G. Institute for Geophysics and Extraterrestrial Physics, TU Braunschweig, Mendelssohnstr. 3, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany
Pringle, G. J.EPCC, The University of Edinburgh, James Clerk Maxwell Building, Mayfield Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3JZ, UK
Date:2012
Journal or Publication Title:Icarus: International Journal of Solar System Studies
Refereed publication:Yes
In Open Access:No
In SCOPUS:Yes
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Volume:218
DOI:10.1016/j.icarus.2011.12.028
Page Range:pp. 666-687
Publisher:Elsevier
Status:Published
Keywords:Mercury Solar wind Magnetospheres Magnetic fields
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Space Science and Exploration
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R EW - Erforschung des Weltraums
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Vorhaben Exploration des Sonnensystems
Location: Berlin-Adlershof
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Planetary Research > Asteroids and Comets
Deposited By: Laura-Maria Brumm
Deposited On:03 Dec 2012 11:21
Last Modified:26 Mar 2013 13:43

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