Coronal streamer belt asymmetries and seasonal solar wind variations deduced from Wind and Ulysses data

N. U. Crooker, A. J. Lazarus, J. L. Phillips, J. T. Steinberg, A. Szabo, R. P.Lepping, and E. J. Smith

Center for Space Physics, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts


Solar wind measurements from Wind during March 1995 are combined with those from Ulysses' fast latitude scan to construct a map of the streamer belt. On the timescale of coronal change, the map is nearly a snapshot view of solar wind speed contours threaded by the trace of the heliospheric current sheet (HCS) in the ± 30° heliolatitude range. The combined set of HCS crossings agrees remarkably well with the neutral line on the corresponding classical source surface map. The neutral line is displaced slightly southward, with latitudinal excursions ranging from -22° to +17° . In contrast, a line running through the locus of minimum speed, although following the general trend of the neutral line, is confined to lower latitudes and displaced slightly northward, ranging from -4° to +13° . The separation between the minimum speed locus and the neutral line marking the HCS was unexpected. Possible interplanetary and solar origins are discussed. The deduced asymmetries as well as coronal change between December and March were responsible for solar wind variations at Earth that mimicked the previously reported seasonal variation in Wind data and would have masked it had the observations been taken during September equinox.

J. Geophys. Res., 102, 4673-4679, 1997