Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Applied Mathematics

First Advisor

Mihaly Horanyi

Second Advisor

Keith Julien

Third Advisor

Bengt Fornberg

Fourth Advisor

Sascha Kempf

Fifth Advisor

James Meiss


Collisionless mass-loading was first discussed to describe interactions between the solar wind and cometary atmospheres. Recent observations have led to an increased interest in mass-loading occurring in the solar corona, due to both sungrazing comets and collisional debris production by sunward migrating interplanetary dust particles. Direct coronal wind observations from future space missions, such as Solar Probe Plus, may reveal such dust sources, motivating the need of a theoretical model for mass-loading in the coronal wind.

This dissertation begins with developing a simple 1D hydrodynamic solar wind mass-loading model, demonstrating the effects of mass-loading dust into the wind. Second, the mass-loading model used in the 1D code is adapted for use with an MHD Solar Corona (SC) component of the Space Weather Modeling Framework (SWMF), with initial results compared to 1D results. The new SC component is then used for a sungrazing cometary dust source example, utilizing orbital and mass loss estimates from the recent sungrazer, Comet C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy). Both a point source and tail source (a dust source spread across a syndyne/synchrone-defined tail) of dust are used to generate a mass-loaded coronal wind. Last, we use results from our sungrazing comet example to show how solar wind properties will appear to a solar probe passing downwind of a cometary dust source.