A numerical scheme for ionizing shock waves

Necdet Aslan, Michael Mond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A two-dimensional (2D) visual computer code to solve the steady state (SS) or transient shock problems including partially ionizing plasma is presented. Since the flows considered are hypersonic and the resulting temperatures are high, the plasma is partially ionized. Hence the plasma constituents are electrons, ions and neutral atoms. It is assumed that all the above species are in thermal equilibrium, namely, that they all have the same temperature. The ionization degree is calculated from Saha equation as a function of electron density and pressure by means of a nonlinear Newton type root finding algorithms. The code utilizes a wave model and numerical fluctuation distribution (FD) scheme that runs on structured or unstructured triangular meshes. This scheme is based on evaluating the mesh averaged fluctuations arising from a number of waves and distributing them to the nodes of these meshes in an upwind manner. The physical properties (directions, strengths, etc.) of these wave patterns are obtained by a new wave model: ION-A developed from the eigen-system of the flux Jacobian matrices. Since the equation of state (EOS) which is used to close up the conservation laws includes electronic effects, it is a nonlinear function and it must be inverted by iterations to determine the ionization degree as a function of density and temperature. For the time advancement, the scheme utilizes a multi-stage Runge-Kutta (RK) algorithm with time steps carefully evaluated from the maximum possible propagation speed in the solution domain. The code runs interactively with the user and allows to create different meshes to use different initial and boundary conditions and to see changes of desired physical quantities in the form of color and vector graphics. The details of the visual properties of the code has been published before (see [N. Aslan, A visual fluctuation splitting scheme for magneto-hydrodynamics with a new sonic fix and Euler limit, J. Comput. Phys. 197 (2004) 1-27]). The two-dimensional nature of ION-A was presented by a planar shock wave propagating over a circular obstacle. It was demonstrated that including the effects of ionization in calculating complex flows is important, even when they appear initially negligible. This code can be used to accurately simulate the nonlinear time dependent evolution of neutral or ionized plasma flows from supersonic to hypersonic regimes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-420
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Computational Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 10 Dec 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Numerical Analysis
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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