Visualisation of the magnetic field lines in the comet plasma environment
Visualisation of the magnetic field lines in the comet plasma environment, taken from a hybrid plasma simulation of the interaction of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko with the solar wind.
The solar wind carries with it the interplanetary magnetic field. The boundary between the comet's magnetosphere and the ambient solar wind is called the bow shock. The location of the bow shock depends on the comet's activity.
Hybrid plasma simulations indicate that around perihelion, when comet 67P/C-G is at around 1.3 AU from the Sun, the bow shock is expected to be present at around a thousand km from the nucleus.
In this image, the "undisturbed" interplanetary magnetic field is visible on the left, the bow shock at the centre and the magnetic field draped around the comet on the right. The small blue sphere, with a radius of about 100 km, shows the size of the innermost coma, which contains the diamagnetic cavity, the ion and magnetic field pile-up regions.
Credits: Modelling and simulation: Technische Universität Braunschweig and Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; Visualisation: Zuse-Institut Berlin