ON OBSERVING MASS EJECTIONS IN THE INTERPLANETARY MEDIUM

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Abstract

Scattering of radio waves by density fluctuations in the solar wind leads to rapid variation in the intensity of compact radio sources. This phenomenon, known as Interplanetary Scintillation (IPS), provides a simple method to study interplanetary activity in the inner heliosphere. During the solar maximum of cycle 22, we carried out extensive, high-time-resolution IPS observations of fast moving interplanetary plasma clouds (IPCs). The observations were done using the Ooty Radio Telescope (ORT) and covered the region between 0.2 AU and 0.8 AU around the Sun. We detected 33 IPCs having velocities of 600 to 1400 km s−1. A two-component model of scattering by time-varying solar wind was developed to analyse these IPCs. The model enabled us to estimate the mass, energy and geometry of each disturbance and to associate them with solar-geomagnetic activity.

Detailed analysis suggests that these IPCs were interplanetary signatures of massive and energetic Solar Mass Ejections (SMEs). The SMEs were found to have average mass and kinetic energy of 5.3 × 1016 g, 2.4 × 1032 ergs. The average span and width of the SME was found to be 42° and 8 × 106 km. Association of these disturbances with solar-geomagnetic activity shows that about 80% of them are associated with Long-Duration X-ray Events (LDXE) and Solar Mass Ejections (SMEs). Only 50% of the events were associated with geomagnetic activity. The present experiment has demonstrated that continuous IPS monitoring is an effective technique to detect mass ejections in the interplanetary medium and to study their evolution through the inner heliosphere.

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