Articles | Volume 22, issue 6
14 Jun 2004
 | 14 Jun 2004

Perturbations of the solar wind flow by radial and latitudinal pick-up ion pressure gradients

H. J. Fahr and K. Scherer

Abstract. It has been found that pick-up ions at their dynamical incorporation into the solar wind modify the original conditions of the asymptotic solar wind plasma flow. In this respect, it has meanwhile been revealed in many papers that these type of solar wind modifications, i.e. deceleration and decrease of effective Mach number, are not only due to the pick-up ion loading effects, but also to the action of pick-up ion pressure gradients. Up to now only the effects of radial pick-up ion pressure gradients were considered, however, analogously but latitudinal pressure gradients also appear to be important. Here we study the effects of radial and latitudinal pick-up ion pressure gradients, occurring especially during solar minimum conditions at mid-latitude regions where slow solar wind streams change to fast solar wind streams. First, we give estimates of the latitudinal wind components connected with these gradients, and then after revealing its importance, present a more quantitative calculation of solar wind velocity and density perturbations resulting from these pressure forces. It is shown that the relative density perturbations near and in the ecliptic increase with radial distance and thus may well explain the measured non-spherically symmetric density decrease with distance. We also show that the solar wind decelerations actually seen with Voyager-1/2 are in conciliation with interstellar hydrogen densities of nH∞≥0.1cm-3, in contrast to earlier claims for nH∞=0.05cm-3.