Solar Physics

, Volume 278, Issue 2, pp 421–433 | Cite as

The Radial Variation of Interplanetary Shocks in the Inner Heliosphere: Observations by Helios, MESSENGER, and STEREO

  • H. R. Lai
  • C. T. Russell
  • L. K. Jian
  • X. Blanco-Cano
  • B. J. Anderson
  • J. G. Luhmann
  • A. Wennmacher


The two major sources of collisionless shocks in the solar wind are interplanetary coronal mass ejections (ICMEs) and stream interaction regions (SIRs). Previous studies show that some SIR-associated shocks form between Venus and Earth while most form beyond 1 AU. Here we examine the high-resolution magnetometer records from Helios 1 and 2 obtained between 0.28 and 1 AU and from MESSENGER obtained between 0.3 and 0.7 AU to further refine our understanding as to where, and in what context, shocks are formed in the inner solar system. From Helios data (Helios 1 from 1974 to 1981 and Helios 2 from 1976 to 1980), we find there were only a few shocks observed inside the orbit of Venus with the closest shock to the Sun at 0.29 AU. We find that there is a strong correlation between shock occurrence and solar activity as measured by the sunspot number. Most of the shocks inside of the orbit of Venus appear to be associated with ICMEs. Even the ICME-associated shocks are quite weak inside the orbit of Venus. By comparing MESSENGER and STEREO results, from 2007 to 2009, we find that in the deep solar minimum, SIR-driven shocks began to form at about 0.4 AU and increased in number with heliocentric distance.


Interplanetary shock Inner heliosphere ICME-driven SIR-driven 



This work was supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under research grant NAS5-03131 administered by University of California, Berkeley.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. R. Lai
    • 1
  • C. T. Russell
    • 1
  • L. K. Jian
    • 1
  • X. Blanco-Cano
    • 2
  • B. J. Anderson
    • 3
  • J. G. Luhmann
    • 4
  • A. Wennmacher
    • 5
  1. 1.ESSUCLALos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.UNAMMéxicoMexico
  3. 3.APLJHULaurelUSA
  4. 4.SSLUCBBerkeleyUSA
  5. 5.U. KölnCologneGermany

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