Traveling waves in Hall-magnetohydrodynamics and the ion-acoustic shock structure

George I. Hagstrom, Eliezer Hameiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hall-magnetohydrodynamics (HMHD) is a mixed hyperbolic-parabolic partial differential equation that describes the dynamics of an ideal two fluid plasma with massless electrons. We study the only shock wave family that exists in this system (the other discontinuities being contact discontinuities and not shocks). We study planar traveling wave solutions and we find solutions with discontinuities in the hydrodynamic variables, which arise due to the presence of real characteristics in Hall-MHD. We introduce a small viscosity into the equations and use the method of matched asymptotic expansions to show that solutions with a discontinuity satisfying the Rankine-Hugoniot conditions and also an entropy condition have continuous shock structures. The lowest order inner equations reduce to the compressible Navier-Stokes equations, plus an equation which implies the constancy of the magnetic field inside the shock structure. We are able to show that the current is discontinuous across the shock, even as the magnetic field is continuous, and that the lowest order outer equations, which are the equations for traveling waves in inviscid Hall-MHD, are exactly integrable. We show that the inner and outer solutions match, which allows us to construct a family of uniformly valid continuous composite solutions that become discontinuous when the diffusivity vanishes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number022109
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics


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