The driving mode of shock-driven turbulence

Saee Dhawalikar, Christoph Federrath, Seth Davidovits, Romain Teyssier, Sabrina R. Nagel, Bruce A. Remington, David C. Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Turbulence in the interstellar medium (ISM) is crucial in the process of star formation. Shocks produced by supernova explosions, jets, radiation from massive stars, or galactic spiral-arm dynamics are amongst the most common drivers of turbulence in the ISM. However, it is not fully understood how shocks drive turbulence, in particular whether shock driving is a more solenoidal (rotational, divergence-free) or a more compressive (potential, curl-free) mode of driving turbulence. The mode of turbulence driving has profound consequences for star formation, with compressive driving producing three times larger density dispersion, and an order of magnitude higher star formation rate than solenoidal driving. Here, we use hydrodynamical simulations of a shock inducing turbulent motions in a structured, multiphase medium. This is done in the context of a laser-induced shock, propagating into a foam material, in preparation for an experiment to be performed at the National Ignition Facility (NIF). Specifically, we analyse the density and velocity distributions in the shocked turbulent medium, and measure the turbulence driving parameter b=(σ ρ/ρ2Γ-1)1/2(1-σρ/ρ-2)-1/2M-1Γ-1/2, with the density dispersion σρ/ρ, the turbulent Mach number M, and the polytropic exponent Γ. Purely solenoidal and purely compressive driving correspond to b ∼1/3 and b ∼1, respectively. Using simulations in which a shock is driven into a multiphase medium with structures of different sizes and Γ < 1, we find b ∼1 for all cases, showing that shock-driven turbulence is consistent with strongly compressive driving.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1782-1800
Number of pages19
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • hydrodynamics
  • instabilities
  • shock waves
  • turbulence


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