First Complete Determination of Plasma Physical Parameters Across a Coronal Mass Ejection-driven Shock
We report on the study of a fast coronal mass ejection (CME)-driven shock associated with the solar eruption of 2002 March 22. This event was observed in the intermediate corona both in white light and the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) by the LASCO and UVCS instruments on board the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, as well as in metric and decametric wavelengths through space- and ground-based radio observatories. Clear signatures of shock transit are (1) strong type II emission lanes observed after the CME initiation, (2) strong O VI λλ1032, 1037 line profile broadenings (up to ~2 × 107 K) associated with the shock transit across the UVCS slit field of view, and (3) a density enhancement located in LASCO images above the CME front. Since the UVCS slit was centered at 4.1 R sun, in correspondence with the flank of the expanding CME, this observation represents the highest UV detection of a shock obtained so far with the UVCS instrument. White-light and EUV data have been combined in order to estimate not only the shock compression ratio and the plasma temperature, but also the strength of the involved coronal magnetic fields, by applying the Rankine-Hugoniot equations for the general case of oblique shocks. Results show that, for a compression ratio X = 2.06 as derived from LASCO data, the coronal plasma is heated across the shock from an initial temperature of 2.3 × 105 K up to 1.9 × 106 K, while at the same time the magnetic field undergoes a compression from a pre-shock value of ~0.02 G up to a post-shock field of ~0.04 G. Magnetic and kinetic energy density increases at the shock are comparable (in agreement with the idea of equipartition of energy), and both are more than two times larger than the thermal energy density increase. This is the first time that a complete characterization of pre- and post-shock plasma physical parameters has been derived in the solar corona.