The magnetohydrodynamics of shock-cloud interaction in three dimensions

Min Su Shin, James McLellan Stone, Gregory F. Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


The magnetohydrodynamic evolution of a dense spherical cloud as it interacts with a strong planar shock is studied, as a model for shock interactions with density inhomogeneities in the interstellar medium. The cloud is assumed to be small enough that radiative cooling, thermal conduction, and self-gravity can be ignored. A variety of initial orientations (including parallel, perpendicular, and oblique to the incident shock normal) and strengths for the magnetic field are investigated. During the early stages of the interaction (less than twice the time taken for the transmitted shock to cross the interior of the cloud), the structure and dynamics of the shocked cloud are fairly insensitive to the magnetic field strength and orientation. However, at late times strong fields substantially alter the dynamics of the cloud, suppressing fragmentation and mixing by stabilizing the interface at the cloud surface. Even. weak magnetic fields can drastically alter the evolution of the cloud compared to the hydrodynamic case. Weak fields of different geometries result in different distributions and amplifications of the magnetic energy density, which may affect the thermal and nonthermal X-ray emission expected from shocked clouds associated with, for example, supernova remnants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)336-348
Number of pages13
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 10 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • ISM: clouds
  • ISM: kinematics and dynamics
  • MHD
  • Magnetic fields
  • Shock waves
  • Supernova remnants


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