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The distribution of solar wind speeds during solar minimum: calibration for numerical solar wind modeling constraints on the source of the slow solar wind

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McGregor, S. L., Hughes, W. J., Arge, C. N., Owens, M. J. and Odstrcil, D. (2011) The distribution of solar wind speeds during solar minimum: calibration for numerical solar wind modeling constraints on the source of the slow solar wind. Journal of Geophysical Research, 116. A03101. ISSN 0148-0227

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To link to this article DOI: 10.1029/2010JA015881

Abstract/Summary

It took the solar polar passage of Ulysses in the early 1990s to establish the global structure of the solar wind speed during solar minimum. However, it remains unclear if the solar wind is composed of two distinct populations of solar wind from different sources (e.g., closed loops which open up to produce the slow solar wind) or if the fast and slow solar wind rely on the superradial expansion of the magnetic field to account for the observed solar wind speed variation. We investigate the solar wind in the inner corona using the Wang-Sheeley-Arge (WSA) coronal model incorporating a new empirical magnetic topology–velocity relationship calibrated for use at 0.1 AU. In this study the empirical solar wind speed relationship was determined by using Helios perihelion observations, along with results from Riley et al. (2003) and Schwadron et al. (2005) as constraints. The new relationship was tested by using it to drive the ENLIL 3-D MHD solar wind model and obtain solar wind parameters at Earth (1.0 AU) and Ulysses (1.4 AU). The improvements in speed, its variability, and the occurrence of high-speed enhancements provide confidence that the new velocity relationship better determines the solar wind speed in the outer corona (0.1 AU). An analysis of this improved velocity field within the WSA model suggests the existence of two distinct mechanisms of the solar wind generation, one for fast and one for slow solar wind, implying that a combination of present theories may be necessary to explain solar wind observations.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:19480
Publisher:American Geophysical Union

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