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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 22, issue 5
Ann. Geophys., 22, 1829-1837, 2004
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-22-1829-2004
© Author(s) 2004. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 22, 1829-1837, 2004
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-22-1829-2004
© Author(s) 2004. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  08 Apr 2004

08 Apr 2004

Surface conductivity of Mercury provides current closure and may affect magnetospheric symmetry

P. Janhunen and E. Kallio P. Janhunen and E. Kallio
  • Finnish Meteorological Institute, Geophysical Research, Helsinki, Finland

Abstract. We study what effect a possible surface conductivity of Mercury has on the closure of magnetospheric currents by making six runs with a quasi-neutral hybrid simulation. The runs are otherwise identical but use different synthetic conductivity models: run 1 has a fully conducting planet, run 2 has a poorly conducting planet ( $sigma{=}10^{-8} Omega^{-1}$ m$^{-1}$) and runs 3-6 have one of the hemispheres either in the dawn-dusk or day-night directions, conducting well, the other one being conducting poorly. Although the surface conductivity is not known from observations, educated guesses easily give such conductivity values that magnetospheric currents may close partly within the planet, and as the conductivity depends heavily on the mineral composition of the surface, the possibility of significant horizontal variations cannot be easily excluded. The simulation results show that strong horizontal variations may produce modest magnetospheric asymmetries. Beyond the hybrid simulation, we also briefly discuss the possibility that in the nightside there may be a lack of surface electrons to carry downward current, which may act as a further source of surface-related magnetospheric asymmetry.

Key words. Magnetospheric physics (planetary magnetospheres; current systems; solar wind-magnetosphere interactions).6

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