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Title:
Ion Thermalization in the Inner Coma of a Comet
Authors:
Puhl, P.; Cravens, T. E.; Lindgren, J.
Publication:
Astrophysical Journal v.418, p.899 (ApJ Homepage)
Publication Date:
12/1993
Origin:
APJ; KNUDSEN
Astronomy Keywords:
COMETS: GENERAL, DIFFUSION, METHODS: NUMERICAL, PLASMAS
DOI:
10.1086/173447
Bibliographic Code:
1993ApJ...418..899P

Abstract

The evolution of the newly created, picked-up cometary ion velocity distribution in the inner coma of comet Halley is studied. Calculations are carried out for subsolar distances ranging from just inside the bow shock (≈350,000 km for comet P/Halley) to a cometocentric distance of about 9400 km which is a few thousand kilometers outside of the diamagnetic cavity boundary (or contact surface). The effects of energy diffusion, Coulomb collisions, charge transfer collisions, dissociative recombination, and ion-neutral polarization interactions have been included in these numerical calculations. Our results indicate that the ion distribution function retains its shell-like nature for radial distances greater than about 15,000 km, although charge transfer collisions and wave-particle interactions tend to cool and thicken the shell, respectively. Our results also indicate that collisional processes such as ion-neutral polarization and Coulomb collisions thermalize the ion distribution function for distances inside about 15,000 km. We found that almost complete thermalization of a low-energy core of the distribution occurs at a distance of 1-2 × 104 km. The existence of a high-energy tail of the ion distribution in this inner region is also discussed.

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