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Generation of dynamic pressure pulses downstream of the bow shock by variations in the interplanetary magnetic field orientation


One-dimensional resistive MHD and hybrid simulations are carried out to study the manner by which variations of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) direction generate dynamic pressure pulses in the magnetosheath. The reaction of the magnetosheath to the temporal IMF variation is modeled as the interaction between the bow shock (BS) and an interplanetary rotational discontinuity (RD), an Alfven wave pulse (AW), or an Alfven wave train. The resistive MHD simulation indicates that the arrival of an RD produces two time-dependent intermediate shocks (TDISs) and two slow shocks downstream of the bow shock, which propagate through the magnetosheath toward the Earth's magnetopause. An enhancement of plasma density is present throughout the TDISs and slow shocks. A plasma dynamic pressure pulse is formed in this region. In the hybrid simulation, the two TDISs are replaced by rotational discontinuities. For a bow shock with a shock normal angle Theta(Bn) > 45 degrees, the pulse in the dynamic pressure rho V-2 causes the the total pressure (P + B-2/2 mu(0) + rho V-2) in the magnetosheath to increases by about 0-100% of the background value. The strength of the pressure pulse increases with the field rotation angle across the incident rotational discontinuity, while it decreases with the Mach number or upstream plasma beta of the bow shock. The pressure pulse propagates toward the magnetopause with nearly a constant amplitude. On the other hand, the BS/AW interaction leads to the generation of Alfven waves downstream of the bow shock, and large-amplitude dynamic pressure pulses are generated in the downstream Alfven wave. Pressure pulses impinging on the magnetopause may produce magnetic impulse events (MIEs) observed in the high-latitude ionosphere.