PIC Simulation of a Shock Tube: Implications for Wave Transmission in the Heliospheric Boundary Region

S. Matsukiyo, T. Noumi, G. P. Zank, H. Washimi, T. Hada

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11 Citations (Scopus)


A shock tube problem is solved numerically by using one-dimensional full particle-in-cell simulations under the condition that a relatively tenuous and weakly magnetized plasma is continuously pushed by a relatively dense and strongly magnetized plasma having supersonic relative velocity. A forward and a reverse shock and a contact discontinuity are self-consistently reproduced. The spatial width of the contact discontinuity increases as the angle between the discontinuity normal and ambient magnetic field decreases. The inner structure of the discontinuity shows different profiles between magnetic field and plasma density, or pressure, which is caused by a non-MHD effect of the local plasma. The region between the two shocks is turbulent. The fluctuations in the relatively dense plasma are compressible and propagating away from the contact discontinuity, although the fluctuations in the relatively tenuous plasma contain both compressible and incompressible components. The source of the compressible fluctuations in the relatively dense plasma is in the relatively tenuous plasma. Only compressible fast mode fluctuations generated in the relatively tenuous plasma are transmitted through the contact discontinuity and propagate in the relatively dense plasma. These fast mode fluctuations are steepened when passing the contact discontinuity. This wave steepening and probably other effects may cause the broadening of the wave spectrum in the very local interstellar medium plasma. The results are discussed in the context of the heliospheric boundary region or heliopause.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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