Comparing and Contrasting the Properties of the Inner Heliosphere for the Three Most Recent Solar Minima
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Comparing and Contrasting the Properties of the Inner Heliosphere for the Three Most Recent Solar Minima

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  • Journal Title:
    Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
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  • Description:
    The previous three solar cycles have ended in progressively more quiescent conditions, suggesting a continual slide into an ever deeper minimum state. Although the Sun's magnetic field is undoubtedly responsible for this quiescence, it is not clear how changes in its structure and strength modulate the properties of the solar wind. In this study, we compare the statistical properties of the solar wind during the three most recent minima (08/1996, 12/2008, and 12/2019) and develop global MHD model solutions to help interpret these observations. We find that, counter-intuitively, the statistical properties of the solar wind for the most recent minimum lie midway between the 08/1996 and 12/2008 minima. For example, while the minimum speed dropped by 40 km s−1 between 08/1996 and 12/2008, they rose by 20 km s−1 around the 12/2019 minimum. From the model results, we infer that the 12/2008 and 12/2019 minima were structurally similar to one another, with the presence of corotating interaction regions driven by equatorial coronal holes, while the 08/1996 minimum represented a more “standard” tilted dipole configuration associated with those of earlier space age minima. Comparison of the statistical properties derived from the model results with data suggest several opportunities to improve model parameters, as well as to apply more sophisticated modeling approaches. Overall, however, the model results capture the essential features of the observations and, thus, allow us to infer the global structure of the inner heliosphere, of which the in-situ measurements provide only a glimpse.
  • Source:
    Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, 127(8)
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    CC BY-NC
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