Strong interplanetary field enhancements at Ulysses - Evidence of dust trails' interaction with the solar wind?

Geraint H. Jones, André Balogh, David J. McComas, Robert J. MacDowall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Interplanetary field enhancements were first discovered in the vicinity of Venus. These events are characterised by an increase in the magnitude of the heliospheric magnetic field with a near-symmetrical, sometimes thorn-shaped profile, and last from minutes to hours. Surveys of the events near Venus and Earth indicated clustering of the events in inertial space, which suggested that their sources were Solar System objects other than the Sun. A survey is presented of strong events of this type detected by the Ulysses spacecraft from 1990 to late 2001. Most of the events are accompanied by a discontinuity in the field direction near the events' centres. Other discontinuities are often symmetrical about the enhancement. The majority of events last less than two hours. When examined as a whole, the events tend to be accompanied by subtle changes in some plasma parameters. The majority of the enhancements are accompanied by magnetic holes on their fringes. The enhancements' occurrence rate increases with decreasing heliocentric distance. Possible formation mechanisms are discussed. No link was found with solar, or solar wind sources. Several aspects of the survey results are consistent with an origin related to cometary dust trails. Possible processes associated with a dust-solar wind interaction are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-310
Number of pages14
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Comets
  • Interplanetary dust
  • Interplanetary medium
  • Solar wind


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