Formation of a sodium ring in Mercury's magnetosphere

Abstract : We have performed a statistical analysis of exospheric sodium ion paths in Mercury's magnetosphere under northward interplanetary magnetic field conditions. Electric and magnetic field models used in the simulation were obtained from a global MHD simulation model, whereas the initial conditions of test Na+ ions were derived from a sodium exosphere model. We observe the formation of a ring-shaped high-pressure region consisting of energetic sodium ions traveling around the planet close to the equatorial plane. The configuration of this "sodium ring" as well as the acceleration processes leading to its formation strongly depend on the solar wind conditions. When the dynamic pressure is low, most of the Na+ are picked up in the magnetosphere and accelerated by the large-scale convective electric field. In contrast, in the case of high dynamic pressure, ions that are picked up in the magnetosheath and penetrate into the magnetosphere significantly contribute to the sodium ring. The configuration of this ring also depends upon the intensity of the solar wind electric field. Our analysis reveals that the pressure built by the Na+ ions may be significant as compared to the MHD pressure around the planet.
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Journal of Geophysical Research : Space Physics, American Geophysical Union/Wiley, 2010, 115 (A10), pp.A10253. 〈10.1029/2009JA015226〉
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Manabu Yagi, K. Seki, Y. Matsumoto, D. C. Delcourt, François Leblanc. Formation of a sodium ring in Mercury's magnetosphere. Journal of Geophysical Research : Space Physics, American Geophysical Union/Wiley, 2010, 115 (A10), pp.A10253. 〈10.1029/2009JA015226〉. 〈hal-00530843〉

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