3D Multifluid MHD simulation for Uranus and Neptune: the seasonal variations of their magnetosphere

Wednesday, 16 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Xin Cao, Georgia Institute of Technology Main Campus, Atlanta, GA, United States and Carol S Paty, Georgia Inst. of Technology, Atlanta, GA, United States
The interaction between Uranus' intrinsic magnetic field and the solar wind is quite different from the magnetospheric interactions of other planets. Uranus’ large obliquity, coupled with the fact that its dipole moment is off-centered and highly tilted relative to the rotation axis, leads to unique and seasonally dependent interaction geometries with the solar wind. We present results from adapting a multifluid MHD simulation to examine these seasonally dependent geometries in terms of the global magnetospheric structure, magnetopause and bow shock location, and magnetotail configuration. The Voyager 2 spacecraft encountered Uranus near solstice, and was able to observe the magnetic field structure and plasma characteristics of a twisted magnetotail [Behannon et al., 1987]. We use such magnetometer and plasma observations as a basis for benchmarking our simulations for the solstice scenario. Auroral observations made by the Hubble Space Telescope during equinox [Lamy et al.,2012] give some indication of the magnetospheric interaction with the solar wind. We also demonstrate the structural difference of the magnetosphere between solstice and equinox seasons. The magnetosphere at equinox is quite distinct due to the orientation and rotation of the magnetic axis relative to the solar wind direction.