Hybrid simulation of the shock wave trailing the Moon

P. Israelevich*, L. Ofman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A standing shock wave behind the Moon was predicted by Michel (1967) but never observed nor simulated. We use 1D hybrid code in order to simulate the collapse of the plasma-free cavity behind the Moon and for the first time to model the formation of this shock. Starting immediately downstream of the obstacle we consider the evolution of plasma expansion into the cavity in the frame of reference moving along with the solar wind. Well-known effects as electric charging of the cavity affecting the plasma flow and counterstreaming ion beams in the wake are reproduced. Near the apex of the inner Mach cone where the plasma flows from the opposite sides of the obstacle meet, a shock wave arises. We expect the shock to be produced at periods of high electron temperature solar wind streams (Ti Te ∼ 100 eV). The shock is produced by the interaction of oppositely directed proton beams in the plane containing solar wind velocity and interplanetary magnetic field vectors. In the direction across the magnetic field and the solar wind velocity, the shock results from the interaction of the plasma flow with the region of the enhanced magnetic field inside the cavity that plays the role of the magnetic barrier. The appearance of the standing shock wave is expected at the distance of ∼7RM downstream of the Moon.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA08223
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2012


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