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Sci Rep. 2018 Jan 11;8(1):463. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-18712-0.

Laboratory Study on Disconnection Events in Comets.

Li YF1,2, Li YT3,4,5, Wang WM6,7, Yuan DW8, Zhu BJ1,2, Zhong JY9,10, Wei HG8, Li F1, Han B8,9, Zhang K8, Pei XX8, Zhang Z1, Zhao JR1, Liu C9, Liao GQ1,11, Fang ZH12, Wang C12, Wang XG13, Sakawa Y14, Rhee YJ15, Lu X1,2, Hua N16, Zhu BQ16, Morita T17, Kuramitsu Y18, Huang XG12,10, Fu SZ12,10, Zhu JQ16,10, Zhao G8,10, Zhang J11,10.

Author information

1
Beijing National Laboratory for Condensed Matter Physics, Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100190, China.
2
School of Physical Sciences, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China.
3
Beijing National Laboratory for Condensed Matter Physics, Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100190, China. ytli@iphy.ac.cn.
4
Collaborative Innovation Centre of IFSA (CICIFSA), Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, 200240, China. ytli@iphy.ac.cn.
5
School of Physical Sciences, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China. ytli@iphy.ac.cn.
6
Beijing National Laboratory for Condensed Matter Physics, Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100190, China. hbwwm1@iphy.ac.cn.
7
School of Physical Sciences, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China. hbwwm1@iphy.ac.cn.
8
Key Laboratory of Optical Astronomy, National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100012, China.
9
Department of Astronomy, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, 100875, China.
10
Collaborative Innovation Centre of IFSA (CICIFSA), Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, 200240, China.
11
Key Laboratory for Laser Plasmas (MoE) and Department of Physics and Astronomy, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, 200240, China.
12
Shanghai Institute of Laser Plasma, Chinese Academy of Engineering Physics, Shanghai, 201800, China.
13
Department of Physics, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin, 150001, China.
14
Institute of Laser Engineering, Osaka University, 2-6 Yamadaoka, Suita, Osaka, 565-0871, Japan.
15
Center for Relativistic Laser Science, Institute for Basic Science, Gwangju, 61005, Korea.
16
National Laboratory on High Power Lasers and Physics,Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, 201800, China.
17
Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Engineering Sciences, Kyushu University, Kasuga, Fukuoka, 816-8580, Japan.
18
Department of Physics, National Central University, Jung-Li, 32001, Taiwan.

Abstract

When comets interacting with solar wind, straight and narrow plasma tails will be often formed. The most remarkable phenomenon of the plasma tails is the disconnection event, in which a plasma tail is uprooted from the comet's head and moves away from the comet. In this paper, the interaction process between a comet and solar wind is simulated by using a laser-driven plasma cloud to hit a cylinder obstacle. A disconnected plasma tail is observed behind the obstacle by optical shadowgraphy and interferometry. Our particle-in-cell simulations show that the difference in thermal velocity between ions and electrons induces an electrostatic field behind the obstacle. This field can lead to the convergence of ions to the central region, resulting in a disconnected plasma tail. This electrostatic-field-induced model may be a possible explanation for the disconnection events of cometary tails.

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