EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 503, Number 1, August III 2009
Page(s) 203 - 206
Section The Sun
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/200811217
Published online 02 July 2009
A&A 503, 203-206 (2009)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/200811217

Observations of a subcritical switch-on shock

H. Q. Feng1, 2, J. M. Wang1, and J. K. Chao3

1  College of Physics and Electronic Information, Luoyang Normal University, Luoyang 471022, PR China
    e-mail: hengqiangfeng@gmail.com
2  State Key Laboratory of Space Weather, Center for Space Science and Applied Research, CAS, Beijing 100190, PR China
3  Institute of Space Science, National Central University, Chungli 32001, Taiwan

Received 24 October 2008 / Accepted 19 May 2009

Context. The conditions that lead to subcritical switch-on shocks are very rare in interplanetary space.
Aims. In this work, we report the identification of a subcritical switch-on shock driven by an interplanetary coronal mass ejection.
Methods. The subcritical switch-on shock is identified by fitting the Rankine-Hugoniot (R-H) conditions.
Results. It is found that the shock has the following characteristics. (1) Proton density, temperature, and total magnetic field strength all increase from the upstream region to the downstream region. (2) Observed parameters meet the R-H relations closely. (3) The fast-mode Mach number is greater than unity in the preshock state and less than unity in the postshock state. (4) The normal Alfvén-Mach number is almost equal to 1 in the postshock state, while the upstream tangential magnetic component is around zero but the downstream tangential magnetic component is not zero (it is “switched on”).
Conclusions. Considering that the shock parameters satisfy all the properties of subcritical switch-on shocks, we conclude that the discontinuity is a subcritical switch-on shock.

Key words: shock waves -- Sun: coronal mass ejections (CMEs) -- Sun: solar wind

© ESO 2009