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Collisionless Shock Research: Current State and Perspectives

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Collisionless shocks are one of the most fundamental phenomena in space plasmas and one of the most efficient particle accelerations in the universe. Understanding of the shock structure is crucial for understanding the mechanisms of energy redistribution and dissipation in shocks. The heliosphere is the only ...

Collisionless shocks are one of the most fundamental phenomena in space plasmas and one of the most efficient particle accelerations in the universe. Understanding of the shock structure is crucial for understanding the mechanisms of energy redistribution and dissipation in shocks. The heliosphere is the only available laboratory where magnetized shocks can be studied by in situ observations. After more than six decades of studies of shocks in solar system plasmas we understand most of the features of laminar shocks. Constantly improving multi-spacecraft measurements allowed us to analyze the fine structure of high-Mach number shocks.

A culmination of these studies has been the recent observation of the shock time-dependence triggering by steepening within the ramp. High resolution achieved in multi-spacecraft missions, especially MMS, allows analysis of the simultaneous evolution of particles and fields and microscopic (in terms of the shock size) scales. It is time to move beyond the standard shock theory and start developing a theory for nonplanar and/or time-dependent high-Mach number shocks.

This Research Topic consolidates the acquired knowledge, hot current research and ideas for future studies in one paper collection which will be easily accessible to researchers and serve as a good starting point for further advances in the field.


Keywords: collisionless shocks, heliosphere, particle acceleration, plasma heating, nonlinear waves


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