Interaction between inclined current sheets and the heliospheric termination shock

Joe Giacalone, David Burgess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Using two-dimensional hybrid simulations we study the interaction between the Heliospheric Current Sheet (HCS) and the solar wind termination shock (TS). Hot flow anomalies (HFA) are regions of hot, deflected and disturbed plasma flow which may form at the intersection of a shock and current sheet. We study the role played by the inclination, θCn, of the current sheet relative to the shock normal. As previously found, low values of θCn are associated with HFA formation. We find that as θCn increases the HFA is modified, until at θCn = 60 it disappears completely. Thus, HFAs are unlikely to be formed near the TS since the HCS is highly inclined relative to the radial direction (θCn > 60). We also find that some suprathermal particles, particularly interstellar pickup ions, are trapped near the intersection point of the shock and current sheet where they gain considerable energy, and subsequently drift along the current sheet upstream of the shock. This process is more effective for larger values of θCn. Thus, we expect that upstream of the TS there are likely to be high-energy particles (energized pickup ions) associated with crossings of the HCS, but only of the particular magnetic reversal polarity associated with HFAs. This may be relevant to recently reported Voyager observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL19104
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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