Mercury sodium exospheric emission as a proxy for solar perturbations transit
Stefano Orsini ; Valeria Mangano ; Anna Milillo ; ...Christina Plainaki ; et al.
Jan - 2018
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-19163-x

journal : Scientific Reports

Volume : 17 ; Issue : 8(1)
type: Article Journal

The first evidence at Mercury of direct relation between ICME transit and Na exosphere dynamics is presented, suggesting that Na emission, observed from ground, could be a proxy of planetary space weather at Mercury. The link existing between the dayside exosphere Na patterns and the solar wind-magnetosphere-surface interactions is investigated. This goal is pursued by analyzing the Na intensity hourly images, as observed by the ground-based THEMIS solar telescope during 10 selected periods between 2012 and 2013 (with seeing, σ < = 2″), when also MESSENGER data were available. Frequently, two-peak patterns of variable intensity are observed, located at high latitudes in both hemispheres. Occasionally, Na signal is instead diffused above the sub-solar region. We compare these different patterns with the in-situ time profiles of proton fluxes and magnetic field data from MESSENGER. Among these 10 cases, only in one occasion the Na signal is diffused above the subsolar region, when the MESSENGER data detect the transit of two ICMEs. The selected cases suggest that the Na emission patterns are well related to the solar wind conditions at Mercury. Hence, the exospheric Na emission patterns, observed from ground, could be considered as a ‘natural monitor’ of solar disturbances when transiting near Mercury.

keywords : Inner planets, Magnetospheric physics