Quasi-parallel collisionless shocks

J. R. Kan, M. E. Mandt, L. H. Lyu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The magnetic field and plasma data from the ISEE 1, 2, and 3 spacecraft have greatly increased our knowledge of the quasi-parallel collisionless shock in space. Hybrid-code simulations have provided us with valuable insights into the physics of the quasi-parallel shock. Unfortunately, theoretical understanding of the nonlinear physics of the quasi-parallel shock is still in a qualitative stage of development. Generation of large-amplitude whistler waves and hydromagnetic waves observed in the quasi-parallel shock has been discussed either in terms of linear instabilities or qualitative nonlinear arguments. It appears that the ion reflection, ion heating, and leakage of the shock-heated downstream ions at the quasi-parallel shock can all be explained in terms of nonadiabatic scatterings of ions by the large-amplitude whistler-magnetosonic waves with frequencies near the ion gyrofrequency and wavelength near the ion inertial length. The nonadiabatic scattering is defined by the non-conservation of the magnetic moment. Future study of the quasi-parallel shock should focus on developing quantitative theoretical models for the nonlinear physical processes fundamental to the quasi-parallel shock.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-236
Number of pages36
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Aug 1991


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