Existence and Stability of Compressible Current-Vortex Sheets in Three-Dimensional Magnetohydrodynamics

Research paper by Gui-Qiang Chen, Ya-Guang Wang

Indexed on: 23 Oct '07Published on: 23 Oct '07Published in: Archive for Rational Mechanics and Analysis


Compressible vortex sheets are fundamental waves, along with shocks and rarefaction waves, in entropy solutions to multidimensional hyperbolic systems of conservation laws. Understanding the behavior of compressible vortex sheets is an important step towards our full understanding of fluid motions and the behavior of entropy solutions. For the Euler equations in two-dimensional gas dynamics, the classical linearized stability analysis on compressible vortex sheets predicts stability when the Mach number \(M > \sqrt{2}\) and instability when \(M < \sqrt{2}\) ; and Artola and Majda’s analysis reveals that the nonlinear instability may occur if planar vortex sheets are perturbed by highly oscillatory waves even when \(M > \sqrt{2}\) . For the Euler equations in three dimensions, every compressible vortex sheet is violently unstable and this instability is the analogue of the Kelvin–Helmholtz instability for incompressible fluids. The purpose of this paper is to understand whether compressible vortex sheets in three dimensions, which are unstable in the regime of pure gas dynamics, become stable under the magnetic effect in three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamics (MHD). One of the main features is that the stability problem is equivalent to a free-boundary problem whose free boundary is a characteristic surface, which is more delicate than noncharacteristic free-boundary problems. Another feature is that the linearized problem for current-vortex sheets in MHD does not meet the uniform Kreiss–Lopatinskii condition. These features cause additional analytical difficulties and especially prevent a direct use of the standard Picard iteration to the nonlinear problem. In this paper, we develop a nonlinear approach to deal with these difficulties in three-dimensional MHD. We first carefully formulate the linearized problem for the current-vortex sheets to show rigorously that the magnetic effect makes the problem weakly stable and establish energy estimates, especially high-order energy estimates, in terms of the nonhomogeneous terms and variable coefficients. Then we exploit these results to develop a suitable iteration scheme of the Nash–Moser–Hörmander type to deal with the loss of the order of derivative in the nonlinear level and establish its convergence, which leads to the existence and stability of compressible current-vortex sheets, locally in time, in three-dimensional MHD.