Absolute and Convective Instability of Tangential Discontinuities in Viscous Fluids: Application to Heliopause
The stability of the heliopause, which is a tangential discontinuity separating the flow of the solar wind plasma compressed at the termination shock, from the flow of the insterstellar plasma compressed at the bow shock, is discussed. A brief review of the normal mode analysis is given. The recent results of the study of the absolute and convective instability of a tangential discontinuity in an incompressible plasma, viscous at one side of the discontinuity, and ideal at the other side, are presented. This equilibrium configuration can be considered as a crude model of the flow near the heliopause in its near-flank regions, where the flow is essentially subsonic. The obtained results suggest that the near flanks of the heliopause are only convectively unstable. The relation of these results with results of recent numerical investigations of the absolute and convective instability of the heliopause are discussed.
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