Volume 591, July 2016
|Number of page(s)||16|
|Published online||22 June 2016|
The formation and evolution of reconnection-driven, slow-mode shocks in a partially ionised plasma
Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical PhysicsUniversity of
2 Kwasan and Hida Observatories, Kyoto University, 606-8501 Kyoto, Japan
Received: 29 January 2016
Accepted: 23 March 2016
The role of slow-mode magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) shocks in magnetic reconnection is of great importance for energy conversion and transport, but in many astrophysical plasmas the plasma is not fully ionised. In this paper, we use numerical simulations to investigate the role of collisional coupling between a proton-electron, charge-neutral fluid and a neutral hydrogen fluid for the one-dimensional (1D) Riemann problem initiated in a constant pressure and density background state by a discontinuity in the magnetic field. This system, in the MHD limit, is characterised by two waves. The first is a fast-mode rarefaction wave that drives a flow towards a slow-mode MHD shock wave. The system evolves through four stages: initiation, weak coupling, intermediate coupling, and a quasi-steady state. The initial stages are characterised by an over-pressured neutral region that expands with characteristics of a blast wave. In the later stages, the system tends towards a self-similar solution where the main drift velocity is concentrated in the thin region of the shock front. Because of the nature of the system, the neutral fluid is overpressured by the shock when compared to a purely hydrodynamic shock, which results in the neutral fluid expanding to form the shock precursor. Once it has formed, the thickness of the shock front is proportional to ξ i-1.2 , which is a smaller exponent than would be naively expected from simple scaling arguments. One interesting result is that the shock front is a continuous transition of the physical variables of subsonic velocity upstream of the shock front (a c-shock) to a sharp jump in the physical variables followed by a relaxation to the downstream values for supersonic upstream velocity (a j-shock). The frictional heating that results from the velocity drift across the shock front can amount to ~2 per cent of the reference magnetic energy.
Key words: magnetic reconnection / magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) / shock waves
© ESO, 2016
Current usage metrics show cumulative count of Article Views (full-text article views including HTML views, PDF and ePub downloads, according to the available data) and Abstracts Views on Vision4Press platform.
Data correspond to usage on the plateform after 2015. The current usage metrics is available 48-96 hours after online publication and is updated daily on week days.
Initial download of the metrics may take a while.