Low Mach-number collisionless electrostatic shocks and associated ion acceleration

I. Pusztai, J. M. TenBarge, A. N. Csapó, J. Juno, A. Hakim, L. Yi, T. Fülöp

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18 Scopus citations


The existence and properties of low Mach-number (M ≳ 1) electrostatic collisionless shocks are investigated with a semi-analytical solution for the shock structure. We show that the properties of the shock obtained in the semi-analytical model can be well reproduced in fully kinetic Eulerian VlasovPoisson simulations, where the shock is generated by the decay of an initial density discontinuity. Using this semi-analytical model, we study the effect of the electron-to-ion temperature ratio and the presence of impurities on both the maximum shock potential and the Mach number. We find that even a small amount of impurities can influence the shock properties significantly, including the reflected light ion fraction, which can change several orders of magnitude. Electrostatic shocks in heavy ion plasmas reflect most of the hydrogen impurity ions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number035004
JournalPlasma Physics and Controlled Fusion
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 12 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Condensed Matter Physics


  • collisionless shock
  • continuum simulations
  • impurities
  • ion acceleration
  • Vlasov


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