What can Observations of Comets Tell Us about the Solar Wind at the Maunder Minimum?

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Abstract

This paper discussed whether 17th Century observers left historical records of the plasma tails of comets that would be adequate to enable us to extract the physical parameters of the solar wind. The size of the aberration angle between a comet’s tail and its radius-vector defines the type of the tail: plasma or dust. We considered Bredikhin’s calculations of the parameters for 10 comet tails observed during the Maunder minimum (1645 – 1715). For those comets the angle between the tail’s axis and the radius-vector on average exceeded the value of 10° that is typical for dust tails. It was noted that visual observations of the ion tails of comets are very difficult to make owing to the spectral composition of their radiation, confirming the conclusion that observations of comet tails made in the 17th Century are not suitable for deriving past values of the physical parameters of the solar wind.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the International Astronomical Union
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages181-183
Number of pages3
Volume14
EditionA30
DOIs
StatePublished - 2018

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International Astronomical Union
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISSN (Print)1743-9213

Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

Keywords

  • (Sun:) solar wind
  • comets
  • comets: general
  • history and philosophy of astronomy

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