Spatial structure of the solar wind and comparisons with solar data and models

M. Neugebauer, R. J. Forsyth, A. B. Galvin, K. L. Harvey, J. T. Hoeksema, A. J. Lazarus, R. P. Lepping, J. A. Linker, Z. Mikic, J. T. Steinberg, R. von Steiger, Y. -M. Wang, and R. F. Wimmer-Schweingrubber

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena


Data obtained by instruments on the Ulysses spacecraft during its rapid sweep through >90° of solar latitude, crossing the solar equator in early 1995, were combined with data obtained near Earth by the Wind spacecraft to study the spatial structure of the solar wind and to compare to different models of the interplanetary magnetic field derived from solar observations. Several different source-surface models matched the double sinusoidal structure of the heliospheric current sheet (HCS) but with differences in latitude as great as 21° . The source-surface model that included an interplanetary current sheet gave poorer agreement with observed current-sheet crossings during this period than did the other source-surface models or an MHD model. The differences between the calculated and observed locations of the HCS were minimized when 22° of solar rotation was added to the constant-velocity travel time from the source surface to the spacecraft. The photospheric footprints of the open field lines calculated from the models generally agreed with observations in the He 10,830 Å line of the locations of coronal holes with the exceptions that (1) in some places, open field lines originated outside the coronal hole boundaries and (2) the models show apparently closed-field regions just inside some coronal hole boundaries. The patterns of mismatches between coronal hole boundaries and the envelopes of open field lines persisted over at least three solar rotations. The highest-speed wind came from the polar coronal holes, with the wind originating deeper within the hole being faster than the wind coming from near the hole boundary. Intermediate and slow streams originated in smaller coronal holes at low latitudes and from open field regions just outside coronal hole boundaries. Although the HCS threaded regions of low speed, low helium abundance, high ionization temperature, and a high ratio of magnesium to oxygen densities (a surplus of an element with low first-ionization potential), there was a great deal of variation in these parameters from one place to another along the HCS. The gradient of speed with latitude varied from 14 to 28 km s-1 deg-1.

J. Geophys. Res., Vol. 103, No. A7, 14,587-14,599, 1998