The Richtmyer-Meshkov instability in magnetohydrodynamics

V. Wheatley*, R. Samtaney, D. I. Pullin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


In ideal magnetohydrodynamics (MHD), the Richtmyer-Meshkov instability can be suppressed by the presence of a magnetic field. The interface still undergoes some growth, but this is bounded for a finite magnetic field. A model for this flow has been developed by considering the stability of an impulsively accelerated, sinusoidally perturbed density interface in the presence of a magnetic field that is parallel to the acceleration. This was accomplished by analytically solving the linearized initial value problem in the framework of ideal incompressible MHD. To assess the performance of the model, its predictions are compared to results obtained from numerical simulation of impulse driven linearized, shock driven linearized, and nonlinear compressible MHD for a variety of cases. It is shown that the analytical linear model collapses the data from the simulations well. The predicted interface behavior well approximates that seen in compressible linearized simulations when the shock strength, magnetic field strength, and perturbation amplitude are small. For such cases, the agreement with interface behavior that occurs in nonlinear simulations is also reasonable. The effects of increasing shock strength, magnetic field strength, and perturbation amplitude on both the flow and the performance of the model are investigated. This results in a detailed exposition of the features and behavior of the MHD Richtmyer-Meshkov flow. For strong shocks, large initial perturbation amplitudes, and strong magnetic fields, the linear model may give a rough estimate of the interface behavior, but it is not quantitatively accurate. In all cases examined the accuracy of the model is quantified and the flow physics underlying any discrepancies is examined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number082102
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


Dive into the research topics of 'The Richtmyer-Meshkov instability in magnetohydrodynamics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this