A Flux-Corrected Transport Model of the Solar Wind Interaction with Comets

D.C. Boice (Southwest Research Institute), K. Murawski (Technical University of Lublin), W.F. Huebner (NASA Headquarters)

To investigate the solar wind interaction with comets, numerical simulations are performed using a flux-corrected transport method to solve the nonlinear, ideal magnetohydrodynamics equations in two dimensions. Using parameters appropriate to comet P/Halley in the inner solar system, the model reproduced the global plasma features recorded by the spacecraft encounters. In particular, it was found that a weak bow shock is formed upstream of the comet at the observed distance. In addition, a contact surface and inner shock are reproduced in the subsolar direction but at greater distances from the nucleus than were observed. This suggests that the adopted ion-drag coefficient that is commonly used in the literature may be too high. At the position of the inner shock, just inside the contact surface, the ion mass density is enhanced in the simulation in reasonable agreement with observations.