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Solar Wind Collisionless Shocks

One goal of the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission (MMS) is getting data on the solar wind.

The recent NASA news story about MMS is somewhat sensational.

These shocks, made of particles and electromagnetic waves, are launched by the Sun.

Interplanetary shocks are a type of collisionless shock — ones where particles transfer energy through electromagnetic fields instead of directly bouncing into one another. These collisionless shocks are a phenomenon found throughout the universe, including in supernovae, black holes and distant stars. MMS studies collisionless shocks around Earth to gain a greater understanding of shocks across the universe.

Interplanetary shocks start at the Sun, which continually releases streams of charged particles called the solar wind.

 Particularly now, after seeing a strong interplanetary shock, MMS scientists are hoping to be able to spot weaker ones that are much rarer and less well understood. Finding a weaker event could help open up a new regime of shock physics.

A 'collisionless shock' is an oxymoron. 'Solar wind' is not a wind, which can arise from an air pressure difference.
I am surprised a continuous stream can cause a shock.

I was unaware of 'a new regime of shock physics' but I discovered:
Washington State University recently announced the extension of its internationally recognized Institute for Shock Physics. '


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