Articles | Volume 23, issue 3
30 Mar 2005
 | 30 Mar 2005

Slow shock interactions in the heliosphere using an adaptive grid MHD model

C.-C. Wu, M. Dryer, and S. T. Wu

Abstract. A one-dimensional (1-D), time-dependent, adaptive-grid MHD model with solar wind structure has been used in the past to study the interaction of shocks. In the present study, we wish to study some fundamental processes that may be associated with slow shock genesis and their possible interactions with other discontinuities. This adaptive-grid model, suitable for appropriate spatial and temporal numerical simulations, is used for this purpose because its finer grid sizes in the vicinity of the steep gradients at shocks make it possible to delineate the physical parameters on both sides of the shocks. We found that a perturbation with deceleration of solar wind will generate an ensemble consisting of a forward slow shock, a fast forward wave and a reverse slow shock. On the other hand, a perturbation with an increase in acceleration of solar wind will generate both a slow shock and a fast shock. These two perturbations, although not unique, may be representative of momentum and pressure changes at the solar surface.

During the transition of a fast shock overtaking a slow shock from behind, the slow shock might disappear temporarily. Also, during the process of the merging of two slow shocks, a slow shock-like structure is formed first; later, the slow shock-like structure evolves into an intermediate shock-like structure. This intermediate shock-like structure then evolves into an intermediate wave and a slow shock-like structure. Finally, the slow shock-like structure evolves into a slow shock, but the intermediate wave disappears by interacting with the non-uniform solar wind. This complex behavior demonstrates the non-unique nature of the formation of slow shocks, intermediate shocks and their derivative structures.

We emphasize the main aim of this work to be both: (a) non-unique input physical parameters to explain the paucity of observed slow shocks, as well as (b) the impossibility of backward tracing to the history of input boundary conditions in view of the present inability to describe unambiguous inputs at the Sun.