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Shock Waves in Space Plasma


Charged Particles Acceleration by Shock Waves in Space Plasma

Tech Area / Field

  • PHY-PLS/Plasma Physics/Physics
  • SAT-AST/Astronomy/Space, Aircraft and Surface Transportation

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Malakhov Yu I

Leading Institute
VNIITF, Russia, Chelyabinsk reg., Snezhinsk

Supporting institutes

  • Institute of Physics of the Earth, Russia, Moscow


  • University of Sheffield / Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering, UK, Shiffield\nMax-Plank-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik, Germany, Garching

Project summary

The present project is devoted to investigation of acceleration processes of charged particles by shock waves in space plasmas. The main attention will be paid to two types of the shock waves:
  1. The shock waves in interstellar medium appeared as the result of supernova burst.
  2. The shock waves, formed through the interaction of solar wind with the magnetospheres of the planets of solar system, first of all with the Earth’s magnetosphere.

It is known, that there are accelerated particles in interstellar space with the energies up to 1020 eV. One of the possible mechanisms for their acceleration is the diffusive particle acceleration in the shock waves. Comparison of available experimental data with the theoretical model gives ground to suppose that the shock waves from the supernova bursts are one of the main sources of the galactic cosmic rays. The main tasks, which can be formulated for the investigation of regular particle acceleration process in the shock waves, include determination of:
  • The shape of energy spectrum of accelerated particles coming in the interstellar space;
  • The efficiency of the acceleration process;
  • The maximum energy of accelerated particles.

Essential attention will be devoted to the processes occurred in the region of terrestrial bow shock and other boundary regions of the Earth’s magnetosphere. It is proposed to carry out the experimental study with use of the data from Claster satellites and the theoretical investigation of the shock related phenomena to clarify:
  • The generation of low-hybrid waves at the front of collisionless shock;
  • The role of plasma and magnetic field inhomogeneities in generation of low-hybrid waves by the beam of reflected ions at the front of supercritical quasi-perpendicular shock wave;
  • The role of the drift-cyclotron instability in generation of the electric field structures at the front of quasi-perpendicular shock waves;
  • An existence of the slow mirror waves MIAOW in the vicinity of magnetopause with use of the Claster’s data and the generation mechanism for these waves in the plasma sheet;
  • The role of the low-hybrid turbulence in the reconnection processes of the magnetic field lines on the magnetopause and in the tail of the magnetosphere.

The work on the project will be performed by two mutually complementing research teams. The first one specializes in the development of physical models of the phenomena in space plasmas, reduction and interpretation of satellite experimental data. The second team has great experience in the development of specialized software for the description of complicated astrophysical phenomena. The combined efforts of these two teams will allow solving the project tasks.

It is planned to use the existent 1D and 2D numerical codes for solving the equations of magnetohydrodynamics. These codes will be supplemented by the numerical model, which allows finding the self-consistent solutions for the plasma parameters and the accelerated charged particles at the shock wave by the mechanism of convective diffusion. The description of collisionless plasma behavior will be expanded by taking into account the influence of various plasma instabilities and related plasma turbulence both in low frequency and ultra low frequency ranges.

We will make the detailed comparison of theoretical results regarding to the terrestrial bow shock with Claster’s experimental data on the composition and the spectrum of charged particles. Based on this comparison the verification of the model for relatively low energies of charged particles will be performed. It is expected that this will give a ground for more reliable application of the developed model for the description of acceleration processes of energetic particles in the highly intense shock waves at supernova explosions.

The majority of the project participants were involved earlier in the development of military technologies. The proposed project will provide the work for these highly skilled scientists, participating in the military researches and developments in the past. The members of these two teams, which are working on the project, will participate in international conferences and publishing the papers in international journals and, thus be integrated into the works of international scientific community.


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