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Daytona Beach


Physical Sciences

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Global hybrid (electron fluid, kinetic ions) and fully kinetic simulations of the magnetosphere have been used to show surprising interconnection between shocks, turbulence and magnetic reconnection. In particular collisionless shocks with their reflected ions that can get upstream before retransmission can generate previously unforeseen phenomena in the post shocked flows: (i) formation of reconnecting current sheets and magnetic islands with sizes up to tens of ion inertial length. (ii) Generation of large scale low frequency electromagnetic waves that are compressed and amplified as they cross the shock. These 'wavefronts' maintain their integrity for tens of ion cyclotron times but eventually disrupt and dissipate their energy. (iii) Rippling of the shock front, which can in turn lead to formation of fast collimated jets extending to hundreds of ion inertial lengths downstream of the shock. The jets, which have high dynamical pressure, 'stir' the downstream region, creating large scale disturbances such as vortices, sunward flows, and can trigger flux ropes along the magnetopause. This phenomenology closes the loop between shocks, turbulence and magnetic reconnection in ways previously unrealized. These interconnections appear generic for the collisionless plasmas typical of space, and are expected even at planar shocks, although they will also occur at curved shocks as occur at planets or around ejecta.

Publication Title

Physics of Plasmas



American Institute of Physics

Additional Information

This pre-print was later published in Physics of Plasmas in volume 21, no. 6. This pre-print is posted on NASA's Technical Reports Server. NASA Doc. Id 20150008403, Report No. GSFC-E-DAA-TN22706.