Articles | Volume 21, issue 6
Special issue:
30 Jun 2003
 | 30 Jun 2003

Breathing of heliospheric structures triggered by the solar-cycle activity

K. Scherer and H. J. Fahr

Abstract. Solar wind ram pressure variations occuring within the solar activity cycle are communicated to the outer heliosphere as complicated time-variabilities, but repeating its typical form with the activity period of about 11 years. At outer heliospheric regions, the main surviving solar cycle feature is a periodic variation of the solar wind dynamical pressure or momentum flow, as clearly recognized by observations of the VOYAGER-1/2 space probes. This long-periodic variation of the solar wind dynamical pressure is modeled here through application of appropriately time-dependent inner boundary conditions within our multifluid code to describe the solar wind – interstellar medium interaction. As we can show, it takes several solar cycles until the heliospheric structures adapt to an average location about which they carry out a periodic breathing, however, lagged in phase with respect to the solar cycle. The dynamically active heliosphere behaves differently from a static heliosphere and especially shows a historic hysteresis in the sense that the shock structures move out to larger distances than explained by the average ram pressure. Obviously, additional energies are pumped into the heliosheath by means of density and pressure waves which are excited. These waves travel outwards through the interface from the termination shock towards the bow shock. Depending on longitude, the heliospheric sheath region memorizes 2–3 (upwind) and up to 6–7 (downwind) preceding solar activity cycles, i.e. the cycle-induced waves need corresponding travel times for the passage over the heliosheath. Within our multifluid code we also adequately describe the solar cycle variations in the energy distributions of anomalous and galactic cosmic rays, respectively. According to these results the distribution of these high energetic species cannot be correctly described on the basis of the actually prevailing solar wind conditions.

Key words. Interplanetary physics (heliopause and solar wind termination; general or miscellaneous) – Space plasma physics (experimental and mathematical techniques)

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