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STRUCTURE OF A PLASMA SHOCK WAVE,
MASSACHUSETTS INST OF TECH CAMBRIDGE FLUID MECHANICS LAB
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The one-dimensional, steady state structure of a shock wave in a fully ionized plasma is investigated in the absence of external applied magnetic or electric fields. The structure is assumed to be described by the Navier-Stokes equations written for the electron and ion fluids, together with Poissons equation for the selfinduced electric field. When the Debye length downstream of the shock is small compared to the ion-ion mean free path there, the plasma remains essentially neutral and the equations governing the charge separation and electric field can be uncoupled from the system. The remaining equations are reduced by a boundary layer type analysis, which uses the fact that different dissipative mechanisms are important over different length scales, and an integration in phase space is carried out. When the free stream Mach number is less than 1.12, the plasma behaves like a single fluid and there is only one shock layer whose thickness is proportional to the ionion mean free path over the square root of the electron to ion mass ration. When the Mach number is greater than 1.12, an ion shock appears imbedded in a wider electron thermal layer. Author
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