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Astron. Astrophys. 335, 363-369 (1998)

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Effect of varying strength and orientation of local interstellar magnetic field on configuration of exterior heliosphere: 3D MHD simulations

R. Ratkiewicz 1, A. Barnes 2, G.A. Molvik 3, J.R. Spreiter 4, S.S. Stahara 5, M. Vinokur 6 and S. Venkateswaran 6

1 Space Research Center, Bartycka 18A, PL-00-716 Warsaw, Poland
2 NASA/Ames Research Center, Mail Code 245-3, Moffett Field, CA 94035-1000, USA
3 NAI, 530 Vista Rio Court, Woodbridge, CA 95258, USA
4 Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
5 RMA Aerospace, Inc., Mountain View, CA 94043, USA
6 NASA/Ames Research Center, MS T27B-1, Moffett Field, CA 94035-1000, USA

Received 15 December 1997 / Accepted 18 February 1998


The aim of this paper is to present the effects of varying magnitude and orientation of the local interstellar magnetic field on the heliospheric boundary region (the region between the termination shock and the bow shock containing the heliopause). Other effects such as interstellar neutrals, cosmic rays and the asymmetry of the solar wind caused by its heliolatitude dependence are disregarded. We calculate the shape and structure of the heliospheric boundary region for different interstellar Alfvénic Mach numbers and various inclination angles between Very Local InterStellar Medium (VLISM) velocity and magnetic field vectors using a fully three-dimensional MHD computational analysis. The new results show the asymmetry of this region for inclination angles 0 and are in agreement with the Newtonian approximation theory (Fahr et al. 1986, 1988) concerning trends in the heliopause orientation and location. Unlike the NA model which only qualitatively indicates the effects of the VLISM magnetic field on the heliospheric boundary region the present 3D MHD calculations reveal fully the nature of these effects by capturing all discontinuities including the termination shock, heliopause and bow shock.

The numerical scheme employed in this study is fully implicit and conservative, using a Roe-type Riemann solver in a generalized coordinate system.

Key words: solar wind – ISM: magnetic fields – magnetic fields – MHD – plasmas – shock waves

Send offprint requests to: R. Ratkiewicz

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1998

Online publication: June 12, 1998