Comet Halley | Published:

Plasma observation by Suisei of solar-wind interaction with comet Halley


The Suisei probe1 made a closest approach of 151,000 km to comet Halley at 13:06 UT on 6 March 1986, and during the encounter Suisei passed through a strong interaction region, where the solar-wind flow was severely perturbed by picked-up ions of cometary origin. Plasma observations from Suisei clearly demonstrate the existence of the assimilation process of cometary ions in the solar-wind flow. Within 2.3 × 105 km of the cometary nucleus, shell structures in the velocity space of cometary protons and watergroup ions were clearly seen. Other ions, such as CO+ (and/or N2+) and CH+ (and/or C+), were also identified from the E/q spectrum. An abrupt change of the plasma parameter was detected around 4.5 × 105 km away from the nucleus, which probably represents the bow-wave crossing. The mass-loading effect was observed at a distance of up to 1 × 106 km.

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