E. Kallio and P. Janhunen
Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
Adv. Space Res., in press, 2003
abstract The interaction between the solar wind and Mercury is anticipated to be unique because of Mercury's relatively weak intrinsic magnetic field and tenuous neutral exosphere. In this paper the role of the IMF in determining the structure of the Hermean magnetosphere is studied using a new self-consistent three-dimensional quasi-neutral hybrid model. A comparison between a pure northward and southward IMF shows that the general morphology of the magnetic field, the position and shape of the bow shock and the magnetopause as well as the density and velocity of the solar wind in the magnetosheath and in the magnetosphere are quite similar in these two IMF situations. A Parker spiral IMF case, instead, produces a magnetosphere with a substantial north-south asymmetric plasma and magnetic field configuration. In general, this study illustrates quantitatively the role of IMF when the solar wind interacts with a weakly magnetised planetary body.