Microphysics of Quasi-parallel Shocks in Collisionless Plasmas

  • D. BurgessEmail author
  • M. Scholer
Part of the Space Sciences Series of ISSI book series (SSSI, volume 47)


Shocks in collisionless plasmas require dissipation mechanisms which couple fields and particles at scales much less than the conventional collisional mean free path. For quasi-parallel geometries, where the upstream magnetic field makes a small angle to the shock normal direction, wave-particle coupling produces a broad transition zone with large amplitude, nonlinear magnetic pulsations playing an important role. At high Mach numbers, ion reflection and acceleration are dominant processes which control the structure and dissipation at the shock. Accelerated particles produce a precursor, or foreshock, characterized by low frequency magnetic waves which are convected by the plasma flow into the shock transition zone. The interplay between energetic particles, waves, ion reflection and acceleration leads to a complicated interdependent system. This review discusses the spacecraft observations which have motivated the current view of the high Mach number quasi-parallel shock, and the theories and simulation studies which have led to a better understanding of the microphysics on which the quasi-parallel shock depends.


Space plasma Collisionless shock Particle acceleration 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Astronomy UnitQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische PhysikGarchingGermany

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