Articles | Volume 31, issue 7
Regular paper
23 Jul 2013
Regular paper |  | 23 Jul 2013

On the relationship between interplanetary coronal mass ejections and magnetic clouds

E. K. J. Kilpua, A. Isavnin, A. Vourlidas, H. E. J. Koskinen, and L. Rodriguez

Abstract. The relationship of magnetic clouds (MCs) to interplanetary coronal mass ejections (ICMEs) is still an open issue in space research. The view that all ICMEs would originate as magnetic flux ropes has received increasing attention, although near the orbit of the Earth only about one-third of ICMEs show clear MC signatures and often the MC occupies only a portion of the more extended region showing ICME signatures. In this work we analyze 79 events between 1996 and 2009 reported in existing ICME/MC catalogs (Wind magnetic cloud list and the Richardson and Cane ICME list) using near-Earth observations by ACE (Advanced Composition Explorer) and Wind. We perform a systematic comparison of cases where ICME and MC signatures coincided and where ICME signatures extended significantly beyond the MC boundaries. We find clear differences in the characteristics of these two event types. In particular, the events where ICME signatures continued more than 6 h past the MC rear boundary had 2.7 times larger speed difference between the ICME's leading edge and the preceding solar wind, 1.4 times higher magnetic fields, 2.1 times larger widths and they experienced three times more often strong expansion than the events for which the rear boundaries coincided. The events with significant mismatch in MC and ICME boundary times were also embedded in a faster solar wind and the majority of them were observed close to the solar maximum. Our analysis shows that the sheath, the MC and the regions of ICME-related plasma in front and behind the MC have different magnetic field, plasma and charge state characteristics, thus suggesting that these regions separate already close to the Sun. Our study shows that the geometrical effect (the encounter through the CME leg and/or far from the flux rope center) does not contribute much to the observed mismatch in the MC and ICME boundary times.