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Plasma Regions

Solar Wind & Bow Shock

Artist's impression showing the main regions/boundaries of the Earth's magnetosphere.

The bow shock is the region where the solar wind is decelerated from supersonic to subsonic speed before being deflected around the Earth. The thickness of the bow shock and the length scales of various processes at play in this region have been revealed in unprecedented detail by the Cluster multi-point measurements.

Further upstream of the bow shock, i.e. towards the Sun, Cluster is providing new measurements which contribute to a better understanding of various phenomena including: plasma turbulence and its role in the heating of the solar wind, backstreaming ions, pickup ions, and plasma bubbles (see Featured highlight below).

Cluster carries five instruments to measure the characteristics of electromagnetic waves in various frequency domains - STAFF, EFW, WHISPER, WBD and DWP - thus it is also ideally suited to provide new insight into the transmission of electromagnetic waves through the bow shock and the magnetosheath.

Featured highlight in this region:
Cluster and Double Star discover density holes in the solar wind
Cluster and Double Star discover density holes in the solar wind


Last Update: 29 November 2010

For further information please contact: SciTech.editorial@esa.int

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