A Model of Mercury's Magnetospheric Magnetic Field with Dependence on Magnetic Activity

Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Haje Korth1, Nikolai A Tsyganenko2, Catherine L Johnson3,4, Lydia C Philpott3, Brian J Anderson1, Sean C Solomon5,6 and Ralph L McNutt Jr1, (1)The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD, United States, (2)Saint Petersburg State University, Saint Petersburg, Russia, (3)University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada, (4)Planetary Science Institute Tucson, Tucson, AZ, United States, (5)Carnegie Institution of Washington, Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Washington, DC, United States, (6)Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, NY, United States
Accurate knowledge of Mercury’s magnetospheric magnetic field is required to characterize the planet’s internal field and the structure of the magnetosphere. We present the first model of Mercury’s magnetospheric magnetic field that includes a dependence on magnetic activity. The model consists of individual modules for magnetic fields of internal origin, approximated by a dipole of magnitude 190 nT RM3, where RM is Mercury’s radius, offset northward by 479 km along the spin axis, and of external origin resulting from currents flowing on the magnetopause boundary and in the cross-tail current sheet. The magnetic field is confined within a magnetopause shape derived from Magnetometer observations by the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft and dependent on magnetic activity. The cross-tail current is prescribed having a disk shape near the planet and extending into a sheet at larger distances. The magnitude of the tail current, which also depends on magnetic activity, is fit to minimize the root-mean-square residual between the model magnetic field and the field within the magnetosphere observed by MESSENGER. The model was fit separately for magnetic field observations within distinct levels of magnetic activity. Linear fits of model parameters versus magnetic activity allows continuous scaling of the model to magnetic activity. The magnetic field contribution from each module is shielded individually by a scalar potential function, which was fit to minimize the root-mean-square normal magnetic field component at the magnetopause. The resulting model reproduces the dependence of the magnetospheric size and tail current intensity on magnetic activity, and allows more accurate characterization of the internal field.