Predicting the large-scale eruptions from the solar corona and their propagation through interplanetary space remains an outstanding challenge in solar- and helio-physics research. In this article, we describe three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamic simulations of the inner heliosphere leading up to and including the extreme interplanetary coronal mass ejection (ICME) of 23 July 2012, developed using the code PLUTO. The simulations are driven using the output of coronal models for Carrington rotations 2125 and 2126 and, given the uncertainties in the initial conditions, are able to reproduce an event of comparable magnitude to the 23 July ICME, with similar velocity and density profiles at 1 au. The launch time of this event is then varied with regards to an initial 19 July ICME and the effects of solar wind preconditioning are found to be significant for an event of this magnitude and to decrease over a time-window consistent with the ballistic refilling of the depleted heliospheric sector. These results indicate that the 23 July ICME was mostly unaffected by events prior, but would have traveled even faster had it erupted closer in time to the 19 July event where it would have experienced even lower drag forces. We discuss this systematic study of solar wind preconditioning in the context of space weather forecasting.

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Solar Physics



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This is an article published by Springer in Solar Physics in 2020, available online: