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ISSN  2096-3955

CN  10-1502/P

Citation: Hou, C. P., He, J. S., Zhang, L., Wang, Y. and Duan, D. (2021). Dynamics of the charged particles released from a Sun-grazing comet in the solar corona. Earth Planet. Phys., 5(3), 1–7doi: 10.26464/epp2021023

doi: 10.26464/epp2021023


Dynamics of the charged particles released from a Sun-grazing comet in the solar corona


School of Earth and Space Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China


Qian Xuesen Laboratory of Space Technology, Beijing 100094, China


SIGMA Space Weather Group, National Space Sciences Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China

Corresponding author: JianSen He,

Received Date: 2020-11-26
Web Publishing Date: 2021-05-01

The sun-grazing comet C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy) showed a distorted, unconventional tail morphology near its perihelion (1.2Rs). Based on the “Solar Corona and Inner Heliosphere” modeling result of the magnetic field and plasma dynamics in the solar corona, we use the Runge-Kutta method to simulate the moving trajectory of charged dust and ion particles released at different positions from the C/2011 W3 orbit. We find that the dust particles near the sun, which are subject to a strong magnetic Lorentz force, travel differently from their counterparts distant from the sun, where the latter are mainly affected by the solar gravitational force and radiation pressure. According to the simulation results, we propose that the magnetic mirror effect can rebound the charged dust particles back away from the sun and be regarded as one crucial cause of the dust-free zone formation. We find that ions mainly move along magnetic field lines at an acute angle to the comet's direction of motion. The cometary ions' movement direction was determined by the comet's velocity and the coronal magnetic field, which are responsible for the C/2011 W3’s unique comet tail shape near perihelion. Additionally, the ion particles also experience perpendicular drift motion, mainly dominated by the electric field drift, which is similar to and can be used to approximate the solar wind's transverse velocity at its source region.

Key words: Sun-grazing comet, cometary tail, solar corona, solar wind, dust-free zone

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Dynamics of the charged particles released from a Sun-grazing comet in the solar corona

ChuanPeng Hou, JianSen He, Lei Zhang, Ying Wang, Die Duan