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Simulation of pressure pulses in the bow shock and magnetosheath driven by variations in interplanetary magnetic field direction


Two-dimensional (2-D) hybrid simulations are carried out to study the effects of the variation in the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) direction on the bow shock, magnetosheath, and magnetosphere. A curvilinear coordinate system is used in the simulation. The 2-D simulation is also compared with our one-dimensional simulation results. It is found that pressure pulses are generated as a result of the interaction between the bow shock (BS) and an interplanetary rotational discontinuity (RD). First, a structure consisting of a rotational discontinuity and two slow shocks are present downstream of the bow shock after the BS/RD interaction. The magnetic field and plasma density are anticorrelated in this structure, The dynamic pressure increases in the structure, leading to a pressure pulse in the magnetosheath. Second, a pressure pulse associated with reflected ions at the bow shock may be generated in the foreshock when the IMF changes its direction, especially when a local quasi-parallel bow shock becomes a quasi-perpendicular shock. The magnetic field, plasma density, and dynamic pressure are positively correlated in the upstream pressure pulse. This pressure pulse convects through and interacts with the bow shock, producing; a pressure pulse in the downstream region. The downstream pressure pulses propagate to the magnetopause. The amplitude of the downstream pressure pulses can be up to 100% of the background magnetosheath value. It is suggested that the pressure pulses impinging on the magnetopause may lead to the magnetic impulse events observed in the high-latitude ionosphere.