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Astron. Astrophys. 358, 759-775 (2000)

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13. Summary and conclusions

There are various disturbances in the solar wind. It is reasonable to expect that each of these has an effect on the plasma tail of comet which has its individual unique signature. We have performed MHD model calculations for several such solar wind disturbances, namely a high speed stream, a rotation of the flow velocity, a high speed stream without field enhancement, a sudden transition from fast to slow wind, a current sheet, a non compressive density enhancement, an interplanetary shock, and a corotating interaction region. It turns out that a HSS, a shock and an NCDE can trigger a tail disconnection. After an HSS there is a conspicuous kink in the tail, after a shock the tail looks diagonally split, and after a NCDE a broadly fanned out tail recedes with constant velocity. These features can be distinguished in observed DEs. There are some associations of observed DEs and observed solar wind disturbances, which confirm the results of our model calculations.

Movies showing the tail of a comet under the action of an HSS, an NCDE, or a shock can be obtained under the internet address:


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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: June 8, 2000