Energy conversion in cometary atmospheres Hybrid modeling of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


  • J. Lindkvist
  • M. Hamrin
  • H. Gunell
  • H. Nilsson
  • C. S. Wedlund
  • Esa Kallio

  • I. Mann
  • T. Pitkanen
  • T. Karlsson

Research units

  • Umeå University
  • Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy
  • Swedish Institute of Space Physics
  • University of Oslo
  • Univ Tromso, UiT The Arctic University of Tromso, Dept Phys & Technol
  • Royal Institute of Technology


Aims. We wish to investigate the energy conversion between particles and electromagnetic fields and determine the location where it occurs in the plasma environment of comets.

Methods. We used a hybrid plasma model that included photoionization, and we considered two cases of the solar extreme ultraviolet flux. Other parameters corresponded to the conditions of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at a heliocentric distance of 1.5 AU.

Results. We find that a shock-like structure is formed upstream of the comet and acts as an electromagnetic generator, similar to the bow shock at Earth that slows down the solar wind. The Poynting flux transports electromagnetic energy toward the inner coma, where newly born cometary ions are accelerated. Upstream of the shock-like structure, we find local energy transfer from solar wind ions to cometary ions. We show that mass loading can be a local process with a direct transfer of energy, but also part of a dynamo system with electromagnetic generators and loads.

Conclusions. The energization of cometary ions is governed by a dynamo system for weak ionization, but changes into a large conversion region with local transfer of energy directly from solar wind protons for high ionization.


Original languageEnglish
Article number81
Number of pages10
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • comets: individual: 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Sun: UV radiation, solar wind, methods: numerical, plasmas, acceleration of particles, SOLAR-WIND, BOW SHOCK, PLASMA ENVIRONMENT, SIMULATION CODE, MAGNETIC-FIELD, IONS

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