Advances in Space Research vol:48 issue:12 pages:1958-1966
The solar wind fills the heliosphere and is the background medium in which coronal mass ejections propagate. A realistic modelling of the solar wind is therefore essential for space weather research and for reliable predictions. Although the solar wind is highly anisotropic, magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) models are able to reproduce the global, average solar wind characteristics rather well. The modern computer power makes it possible to perform full three dimensional (3D) simulations in domains extending beyond the Earth's orbit, to include observationally driven boundary conditions, and to implement even more realistic physics in the equations. In general, MHD models for the solar wind often make use of additional source and sink terms in order to mimic the observed solar wind parameters and/or they hide the not-explicitly modelled physical processes in a reduced or variable adiabatic index. Even the models that try to take as much as possible physics into account, still need additional source terms and fine tuning of the parameters in order to produce realistic results. In this paper we present a new and simple polytropic model for the solar wind, incorporating data from the ACE spacecraft to set the model parameters. This approach allows to reproduce the different types of solar wind, where the simulated plasma variables are in good correspondence with the observed solar wind plasma near 1 AU. (C) 2011 COSPAR. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.