Simulation of the solar wind interaction with non-magnetic celestial bodies

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Abstract

Laboratory experiments are described to simulate the solar wind flowing around nonmagnetic planets for three cases: non-conducting and ideally conducting planets, and a planet with a gaseous shell. A glass sphere was used as a model of a non-conducting planet (the Moon). Spatial distributions of plasma density and magnetic field strength that have been obtained agree with the data from measurements in space. However, the magnetic field does not increase before the rarefaction wave in the model experiment. A field increase was observed only for a conducting lunella: this argues in favour of the existence of a high conduction region on the Moon. A wax ball was used to model phenomena on the day-side of non-magnetic celestial bodies with a gaseoue shell (Venus, comets). Its surface easily evaporates in the plasma flow, and ionized evaporation products form an artificial ionosphere. The magnetic field frozen in the plasma flow is shown to be a determinative factor in the formation of a sharp ionospheric boundary. The supersonic plasma flow that interacts with the ionosphere gives rise to a stationary shock wave. © 1978.

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Podgorny, I. M., & Andrijanov, Y. V. (1978). Simulation of the solar wind interaction with non-magnetic celestial bodies. Planetary and Space Science, 26(2), 99–109. https://doi.org/10.1016/0032-0633(78)90010-7

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