J. Space Weather Space Clim.
Volume 11, 2021
|Number of page(s)||11|
|Published online||08 March 2021|
Agora – Historical space weather events and observations
Three case reports on the cometary plasma tail in the historical documents
Institute for Space-Earth Environmental Research, Nagoya University, Nagoya 4648601, Japan
2 Institute for Advanced Research, Nagoya University, Nagoya 4648601, Japan
3 UK Solar System Data Centre, Space Physics and Operations Division, RAL Space, Science and Technology Facilities Council, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Harwell Oxford, Didcot, Oxfordshire OX11 0QX, UK
4 Nishina Centre, Riken, Wako 3510198, Japan
5 Graduate School of Science, Nagoya University, Nagoya 4648601, Japan
6 Graduate School of Humanities, Nagoya University, Nagoya 4648601, Japan
7 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba 3058571, Japan
8 Sumitomo Chemical, Niihama 7928521, Japan
9 Frontier Research Institute for Interdisciplinary Sciences, Tohoku University, Sendai 980-8578, Japan
10 Astronomical Institute, Tohoku University, Aramaki, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi 980-8578, Japan
11 National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Mitaka, Tokyo 1818588, Japan
12 Department of Natural Science, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Tokyo City University 1-28-1, Tamazutsumi, Setagaya, Tokyo 158-8557, Japan
13 Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Sagamihara 2525210, Japan
14 Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University, Yoshida-Nihonmatsu, Sakyo, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan
15 Faculty of Library, Information and Media Science, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba 3058550, Japan
16 Center for Northeast Asian Studies, Tohoku University, 41 Kawauchi, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi 980-8576, Japan
Accepted: 18 August 2020
Cometary tails visually manifest the solar wind and became an initial hint for its discovery. While the solar wind is being directly monitored with satellites, its time series before the space age has been controversially reconstructed with multiple proxies. Recently, archival reports of cometary plasma tails have been subjected to consideration to indirectly measure the solar wind but brought conclusion that no plasma tails had been reported prior to 1769 probably due to their brightness. However, historical records have occasionally reported comets with two tails even before 1769. These cases have been tentatively associated with visual reports of cometary plasma and dust tails. Therefore, we examined three such cases (C/1577 V1, 1P/837, and 1P/760), and compared the descriptions in historical records with calculated direction of their plasma tails. Our comparisons show that the records and calculations agree in these cases and plasma tails were visually recorded corresponding to these three great comets. These cases certify the capability of plasma tail observations with the unaided eye even before 1769, qualitatively imply their extreme brightness, proximities with the Sun and the Earth, relative enhancements of UV radiations, and interaction of cometary neutral atmosphere with solar wind plasma and magnetic field, while the lack of their detailed length or kink hinders us from their quantitative measuring. Further investigations will likely lead to the re-discovery of even more visual evidence of cometary plasma tails and, hence, improve our understanding on past space climate.
Key words: space climate / cometary plasma tail: solar wind / UV radiation
© H. Hayakawa et al., Published by EDP Sciences 2021
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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