The Sun continually ejects matter into space, blowing a huge bubble of supersonic plasma. This solar wind bathes the whole solar system and shapes all planetary environments. The growth of space technology has considerably increased our knowledge of this medium.
This 2007 book presents an introduction to the subject, starting with basic principles and including all the latest advances from space exploration and theory. It contains a short introduction to plasma physics and discusses the structure of the solar interior and atmosphere, the production of solar wind and its perturbations. It explains the objects of the Solar System, from dust to comets and planets, and their interaction with the solar wind. The final sections explore the astrophysical point of view. The topics are treated at various levels of difficulty both qualitatively and quantitatively. Basics of the Solar Wind will appeal to graduate students and researchers in earth and atmospheric sciences, and astrophysics.
"The author has an easy style and a knack for clarity, picking out questions to answer and summarising key points without dull repetition. There are plenty of illustrations, including some excellent sketches and cartoons, and overviews of the types of images used [...] Nicole Meyer-Vernet has done an excellent job of starting at the very beginning of a complex topic and talking the reader through to an understanding of current research questions, with good humour and a sharp eye for inconsistencies."
Part I. The Wind From the Sun: an Introduction
1. A brief history of ideas
2. Looking at the Sun
3. Observing the solar wind
Part II. Toolkit for Space Plasma Physics
4. What is a plasma?
5. Dynamics of a charged particle
6. Many particles: from kinetics to MHD
7. Basic tools for ionisation
Part III. Anatomy of the Sun
9. An (almost) ordinary star
10. Structure and dynamics
11. Some guesses on solar magnetism
Part IV. The Outer Solar Atmosphere
13. From the photosphere to the corona
14. Force balance and magnetic structures
15. Energy balance
16. Some prominent species
17. Time variability
18. Coronal heating: Boojums at work?
19. Hydrostatic instability of the corona
Part V. How does the solar wind blow?
21. The basic problem
22. Simple fluid theory
23. Letting the temperature vary
24. A mixture of fluids
25. Kinetic descriptions
26. Building a 'full' theory?
Part VI. Structure and Perturbations
28. Basic large-scale magnetic field
29. Three-dimensional structure during the solar cycle
30. Major perturbations
31. Waves and turbulence
32. Minor constituents
Part VII. Bodies in the Wind: Dust, Asteroids, Planets and Comets
34. Bodies in the wind
35. Basics of the interaction
36. The magnetospheric engine
37. Physics of heliospheric dust grains
Part VIII. The Solar Wind in the Universe
39. The frontier of the heliosphere
40. Cosmic rays
41. Examples of winds in the universe
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Nicole Meyer-Vernet is Research Director at Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris, and a senior scientist at the Observatoire de Paris. She received the 'E. Dechelle' de l'Academie des Sciences and has been involved with a number of spacecraft investigations of the earth's ionosphere, the solar wind, and cometary and planetary environments.