Multiple, distant (40 degrees) in situ observations of a magnetic cloud and a corotating interaction region complex


We report a comprehensive analysis of in situ observations made by Wind and the STEREO probes (STA, STB) of a complex interaction between a magnetic cloud (MC) and a corotating interaction region (CIR) occurring near the heliospheric current sheet (HCS) on November 19–21, 2007. The probes were separated by 0.7 AU with a spread in heliographic latitudes (4.8,° 2.2,° and −0.4,° for STB, Wind and STA, respectively). We employ data from the MFI, SWE and 3DP instruments on Wind, and the PLASTIC and IMPACT suites on STEREO. STB, located east of Earth, observed a forward shock followed by signatures of a MC. The MC took the role of the HCS in that the polarity of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) on exit was the reverse of that on entry. A passage through a plasma sheet was observed. Along the Sun–Earth line Wind observed a stream interface (SI) between a forward and a reverse shock. A MC, compressed by the CIR, was entrained in this. STA, located 20° to the west of Earth, saw a MC which was not preceded by a shock. A SI trailed the transient. The shocks are examined using various methods and from this it is concluded that the forward shock at Wind—but not at STB—was driven by the MC. Examining the MC by Grad–Shafranov reconstruction, we find evidence of a double-flux rope structure at Wind and STA and possibly also at STB. The orientations are at variance with the notion of a large-scale flux tube being observed at the three spacecraft. We find consistency of this with the directional properties of the solar wind “strahl” electrons. We examine aspects of the geomagnetic response and find a double-dip storm corresponding to the two interplanetary triggers. The minimum Dst phase was prolonged and the geoeffects were intensified due to the interaction. We conclude that while the formation of compound streams is a common feature of interplanetary space, understanding their components when CIRs are involved is a complicated matter needing numerical simulations and/or more in situ observations for its complete elucidation.

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Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics



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