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Reformation of an oblique shock observed by Cluster

Reformation of an oblique shock observed by Cluster

Publication date: 25 November 2009

Authors: Lefebvre, B. et al.

Journal: J. Geophys. Res.
Volume: 114
Issue: A11
ID: A11107
Year: 2009

Copyright: American Geophysical Union

On 16 March 2005, the Cluster spacecraft crossed a shock almost at the transition between the quasi-perpendicular and quasi-parallel regimes (ThetaBn = 46°) preceded by an upstream low-frequency (~0.02 Hz in the spacecraft frame) wave train observed for more than 10 mn. The wave semicycle nearest to the shock was found to grow in time, steepen and reflect an increasing fraction of the incoming ions. This gives strong indication that this pulsation is becoming a new shock front, standing ~5lambdap upstream of the main front and growing to shock-like amplitude on a timescale of ~35 Omegap. Downstream of the main shock transition, remnants of an older front are found indicating that the reformation is cyclic. This provides a unique example where the dynamics of shock reformation can be sequentially followed. The process shares many characteristics with simulations of reforming quasi-parallel shocks.

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