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Density-Transition Scale at Quasiperpendicular Collisionless Shocks

Density-Transition Scale at Quasiperpendicular Collisionless Shocks

Publication date: 31 December 2003

Authors: Bale, S.D., Mozer, F.S. and Horbury, T. S.

Journal: Physical Review Letters
Volume: 91, 265004
Year: 2003

Copyright: The American Physical Society

Measurements of a spacecraft floating potential, on the four Cluster spacecraft, are used as a proxy for electron plasma density to study, for the first time, the macroscopic density transition scale at 98crossings of the quasiperpendicular terrestrial bow shock. A timing analysis gives shock speeds and normals; the shock speed is used to convert the temporal measurement to a spatial one. A hyperbolic tangent function is fitted to each density transition, which captures the main shock transition, but not overshoot or undershoot nor foot features. We find that, at a low Mach number M, the density transition is consistent with both ion inertial scales c/ωpi and convected gyroradii vsh,nci,2, while at M ≥ 4-5 only the convected gyroradius is the preferred scale for the shock density transition and takes the value L ≈ 0.4vsh,nci,2.

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