Magnetic cloud distortion resulting from propagation through a structured solar wind: Models and observations
Owens, M. J. (2006) Magnetic cloud distortion resulting from propagation through a structured solar wind: Models and observations. Journal of Geophysical Research, 111. A12109. ISSN 0148-0227
To link to this article DOI: 10.1029/2006JA011903
Numerical simulations of magnetic clouds (MCs) propagating through a structured solar wind suggest that MC-associated magnetic flux ropes are highly distorted by inhomogeneities in the ambient medium. In particular, a solar wind configuration of fast wind from high latitudes and slow wind at low latitudes, common at periods close to solar minimum, should distort the cross section of magnetic clouds into concave-outward structures. This phenomenon has been reported in observations of shock front orientations, but not in the body of magnetic clouds. In this study an analytical magnetic cloud model based upon a kinematically distorted flux rope is modified to simulate propagation through a structured medium. This new model is then used to identify specific time series signatures of the resulting concave-outward flux ropes. In situ observations of three well studied magnetic clouds are examined with comparison to the model, but the expected concave-outward signatures are not present. Indeed, the observations are better described by the convex-outward flux rope model. This may be due to a sharp latitudinal transition from fast to slow wind, resulting in a globally concave-outward flux rope, but with convex-outward signatures on a local scale.