The nature of the magnetic structure arising from ion specular reflection in shock compression studies is examined by means of 1D particle-in-cell simulations. Propagation speed, field profiles, and supporting currents for this magnetic structure are shown to be consistent with a magnetosonic soliton. Coincidentally, this structure and its evolution are typical of foot structures observed in perpendicular shock reformation. To reconcile these two observations, we propose, for the first time, that shock reformation can be explained as the result of the formation, growth, and subsequent transition to a supercritical shock of a magnetosonic soliton. This argument is further supported by the remarkable agreement found between the period of the soliton evolution cycle and classical reformation results. This new result suggests that the unique properties of solitons can be used to shed new light on the long-standing issue of shock nonstationarity and its role on particle acceleration.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)