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Title:
Interplanetary Magnetic Flux Depletion During Protracted Solar Minima
Authors:
Connick, David E.; Smith, Charles W.; Schwadron, Nathan A.
Affiliation:
AA(Physics Department, Space Science Center, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, USA ), AB(Physics Department, Space Science Center, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, USA ), AC(Physics Department, Space Science Center, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, USA )
Publication:
The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 727, Issue 1, article id. 8, 6 pp. (2011). (ApJ Homepage)
Publication Date:
01/2011
Origin:
IOP
Astronomy Keywords:
interplanetary medium, magnetic fields, solar wind
DOI:
10.1088/0004-637X/727/1/8
Bibliographic Code:
2011ApJ...727....8C

Abstract

We examine near-Earth solar wind observations as assembled within the Omni data set over the past 15 years that constitute the latest solar cycle. We show that the interplanetary magnetic field continues to be depleted at low latitudes throughout the protracted solar minimum reaching levels below previously predicted minima. We obtain a rate of flux removal resulting in magnetic field reduction by 0.5 nT yr-1 at 1 AU when averaged over the years 2005-2009 that reduces to 0.3 nT yr-1 for 2007-2009. We show that the flux removal operates on field lines that follow the nominal Parker spiral orientation predicted for open field lines and are largely unassociated with recent ejecta. We argue that the field line reduction can only be accomplished by ongoing reconnection of nominally open field lines or very old closed field lines and we contend that these two interpretations are observationally equivalent and indistinguishable.
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