Imperial College London

Dr Jonathan P. Eastwood

Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Physics

Senior Lecturer



+44 (0)20 7594 8101jonathan.eastwood Website




6M63Blackett LaboratorySouth Kensington Campus






BibTex format

author = {Mejnertsen, L and Eastwood, J and Hietala, H and Chittenden, J},
doi = {10.1002/2017JA024690},
journal = {Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics},
pages = {259--271},
title = {Global MHD simulations of the Earth's bow shock shape and motion under variable solar wind conditions},
url = {},
volume = {123},
year = {2017}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

AB - Empirical models of the Earth's bow shock are often used to place in situ measurements in context and to understand the global behavior of the foreshock/bow shock system. They are derived statistically from spacecraft bow shock crossings and typically treat the shock surface as a conic section parameterized according to a uniform solar wind ram pressure, although more complex models exist. Here a global magnetohydrodynamic simulation is used to analyze the variability of the Earth's bow shock under real solar wind conditions. The shape and location of the bow shock is found as a function of time, and this is used to calculate the shock velocity over the shock surface. The results are compared to existing empirical models. Good agreement is found in the variability of the subsolar shock location. However, empirical models fail to reproduce the two-dimensional shape of the shock in the simulation. This is because significant solar wind variability occurs on timescales less than the transit time of a single solar wind phase front over the curved shock surface. Empirical models must therefore be used with care when interpreting spacecraft data, especially when observations are made far from the Sun-Earth line. Further analysis reveals a bias to higher shock speeds when measured by virtual spacecraft. This is attributed to the fact that the spacecraft only observes the shock when it is in motion. This must be accounted for when studying bow shock motion and variability with spacecraft data.
AU - Mejnertsen,L
AU - Eastwood,J
AU - Hietala,H
AU - Chittenden,J
DO - 10.1002/2017JA024690
EP - 271
PY - 2017///
SN - 2169-9380
SP - 259
TI - Global MHD simulations of the Earth's bow shock shape and motion under variable solar wind conditions
T2 - Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
UR -
UR -
VL - 123
ER -