ForeCAT - a model for magnetic deflections of coronal mass ejections
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Frequently, the Sun explosively releases bubbles of magnetized plasma known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which can produce adverse space weather effects at Earth. Accurate space weather forecasting requires knowledge of the trajectory of CMEs. Decades of observations show that CMEs can deflect from a purely radial trajectory, however, no consensus exists as to the cause of these deflections. We developed a model for CME deflection and rotation from magnetic forces, called Forecasting a CME's Altered Trajectory (ForeCAT). ForeCAT has been designed to run fast enough for large parameter phase space studies, and potentially real-time predictions. ForeCAT reproduces the general trends seen in observed CME deflections. In particular, CMEs deflect toward regions of minimum magnetic energy - frequently the Heliospheric Current Sheet (HCS) on global scales. The background magnetic forces decrease rapidly with distance and quickly become negligible. Most deflections and rotations can be well-described by assuming constant angular momentum beyond 10 Rs. ForeCAT also reproduces individual observed CME deflections - the 2008 December 12, 2008 April 08, and 2010 July 12 CMEs. By determining the reduced chi-squared best fit between the ForeCAT results and the observations we constrain parameters related to the CME and the background solar wind. Additionally, we constrain whether different models for the low corona magnetic backgrounds can produce the observed CME deflection. We explore the space weather of cool M dwarfs (dMs) with surface magnetic field strengths of order kG. dMs have extreme CMEs and flares and close-in habitable zones. We use ForeCAT to explore the deflections corresponding to the range of plausible CME masses and speeds for the dM V374 Peg. The deflection of the dM CMEs exceeds their solar counterparts, and the strong magnetic gradients surrounding the dM's Astrospheric Current Sheet (ACS, analogous to the Sun's HCS) can trap the CMEs that reach it. Exoplanets which orbit in the plane of the ACS will suffer CME impacts 10 times more often than exoplanets with inclined orbits and are therefore less likely to retain an atmosphere than exoplanets with inclined orbits.