Posts Tagged particle acceleration

Recent Postings from particle acceleration

Particle Acceleration and Heating by Turbulent Reconnection

Turbulent flows in the solar wind, large scale current sheets, multiple current sheets, and shock waves lead to the formation of environments in which a dense network of current sheets is established and sustains "turbulent reconnection". We constructed a 2D grid on which a number of randomly chosen grid points are acting as {\bf scatterers} (i.e.\ magnetic clouds or current sheets). In particular, we study how test particles respond inside this collection of scatterers. We study the energy gain of individual particles, the evolution of their energy distribution, their escape time distribution and we determine the transport coefficients from the particle dynamics. We have shown that our model describes very well the second order Fermi energization of non relativistic plasmas in open or periodic numerical boxes, when using magnetic clouds as scatterers. Replacing the "magnetic clouds" with current sheets, we have proven that the processes are much more efficient and particle heating and acceleration depends on the strength of the effective electric fields inside the current sheets and their statistical properties. Using the estimated transport coefficients and solving the Fokker-Planck (FP) equation we can recover the energy distribution of the particles only for the second order Fermi process. We have shown that the evolution of the particles inside a turbulent reconnecting volume is not a solution of the FP equation, since the interaction of the particles with the current sheets is "anomalous", in contrast to the case of the second order Fermi process.

Particle Acceleration and Heating by Turbulent Reconnection [Replacement]

Turbulent flows in the solar wind, large scale current sheets, multiple current sheets, and shock waves lead to the formation of environments in which a dense network of current sheets is established and sustains "turbulent reconnection". We constructed a 2D grid on which a number of randomly chosen grid points are acting as {\bf scatterers} (i.e.\ magnetic clouds or current sheets). In particular, we study how test particles respond inside this collection of scatterers. We study the energy gain of individual particles, the evolution of their energy distribution, their escape time distribution and we determine the transport coefficients from the particle dynamics. We have shown that our model describes very well the second order Fermi energization of non relativistic plasmas in open or periodic numerical boxes, when using magnetic clouds as scatterers. Replacing the "magnetic clouds" with current sheets, we have proven that the processes are much more efficient and particle heating and acceleration depends on the strength of the effective electric fields inside the current sheets and their statistical properties. Using the estimated transport coefficients and solving the Fokker-Planck (FP) equation we can recover the energy distribution of the particles only for the second order Fermi process. We have shown that the evolution of the particles inside a turbulent reconnecting volume is not a solution of the FP equation, since the interaction of the particles with the current sheets is "anomalous", in contrast to the case of the second order Fermi process.

The Equatorial Current Sheet and other interesting features of the Pulsar Magnetosphere

We want to understand what drives magnetospheric dissipation in the equatorial current sheet. Numerical simulations have limitations and, unless we have a clear a priori understanding of the physical processes involved, their results can be misleading. We argue that the canonical pulsar magnetosphere is strongly dissipative and that a large fraction (up to 30-40% in an aligned rotator) of the spindown luminosity is redirected towards the equator where it is dissipated into particle acceleration and emission of radiation. We show that this is due to the failure of the equatorial electric current to cross the Y-point at the tip of the corotating zone.

The Equatorial Current Sheet and other interesting features of the Pulsar Magnetosphere [Replacement]

We want to understand what drives magnetospheric dissipation in the equatorial current sheet. Numerical simulations have limitations and, unless we have a clear a priori understanding of the physical processes involved, their results can be misleading. We argue that the canonical pulsar magnetosphere is strongly dissipative and that a large fraction (up to 30-40% in an aligned rotator) of the spindown luminosity is redirected towards the equator where it is dissipated into particle acceleration and emission of radiation. We show that this is due to the failure of the equatorial electric current to cross the Y-point at the tip of the corotating zone.

Pulsar Electrodynamics: an unsolved problem

Pulsar electrodynamics is reviewed emphasizing the role of the inductive electric field in an oblique rotator and the incomplete screening of its parallel component by charges, leaving `gaps' with $E_\parallel\ne0$. The response of the plasma leads to a self-consistent electric field that complements the inductive electric field with a potential field leading to an electric drift and a polarization current associated with the total field. The electrodynamic models determine the charge density, $\rho$, and the current density, ${\bf J}$, charge starvation refers to situations where the plasma cannot supply $\rho$, resulting in a gap and associated particle acceleration and pair creation. It is pointed out that a form of current starvation also occurs implying a new class of gaps. The properties of gaps are discussed, emphasizing that static models are unstable, the role of large-amplitude longitudinal waves, and the azimuthal dependence that arises across a gap in an oblique rotator. Wave dispersion in a pulsar plasma is reviewed briefly, emphasizing its role in radio emission. Pulsar radio emission mechanisms are reviewed, and it is suggested that the most plausible is a form of plasma emission.

Kinetic study of radiation-reaction-limited particle acceleration during the relaxation of unstable force-free equilibria

Many powerful and variable gamma-ray sources, including pulsar wind nebulae, active galactic nuclei and gamma-ray bursts, seem capable of accelerating particles to gamma-ray emitting energies efficiently over very short time scales. These are likely due to rapid dissipation of electromagnetic energy in a highly magnetized, relativistic plasma. In order to understand the generic features of such processes, we have investigated simple models based on relaxation of unstable force-free magnetostatic equilibria. In this work, we make the connection between the corresponding plasma dynamics and the expected radiation signal, using 2D particle-in-cell simulations that self-consistently include synchrotron radiation reaction. We focus on the lowest order unstable force-free equilibrium in a 2D periodic box. We find that rapid variability, with modest apparent radiation efficiency as perceived by a fixed observer, can be produced during the evolution of the instability. The "flares" are accompanied by an increased polarization degree in the high energy band, with rapid variation in the polarization angle. Furthermore, the separation between the acceleration sites and the synchrotron radiation sites for the highest energy particles facilitates acceleration beyond the synchrotron radiation reaction limit. We also discuss the dynamical consequences of radiation reaction, and some astrophysical applications of this model. Our current simulations with numerically tractable parameters are not yet able to reproduce the most dramatic gamma-ray flares, e.g., from Crab Nebula. Higher magnetization studies are promising and will be carried out in the future.

Particle Acceleration during Magnetic Reconnection in a Low-beta Pair Plasma

Plasma energization through magnetic reconnection in the magnetically-dominated regime featured by low plasma beta ($\beta = 8 \pi nkT_0/B^2 \ll 1$) and/or high magnetization ($\sigma = B^2/(4 \pi nmc^2) \gg 1$) is important in a series of astrophysical systems such as solar flares, pulsar wind nebula, and relativistic jets from black holes, etc. In this paper, we review the recent progress on kinetic simulations of this process and further discuss plasma dynamics and particle acceleration in a low-$\beta$ reconnection layer that consists of electron-positron pairs. We also examine the effect of different initial thermal temperatures on the resulting particle energy spectra. While earlier papers have concluded that the spectral index is smaller for higher $\sigma$, our simulations show that the spectral index approaches $p=1$ for sufficiently low plasma $\beta$, even if $\sigma \sim 1$. Since this predicted spectral index in the idealized limit is harder than most observations, it is important to consider effects that can lead to a softer spectrum such as open boundary simulations. We also remark that the effects of 3D reconnection physics and turbulence on reconnection need to be addressed in the future.

Spectral lags of flaring events in $LSI +61^{o} $ 303 from RXTE Observations

This work reports the first discovery of (negative) spectral lags in the X-ray emission below 10 keV from the gamma ray binary $LSI +61^{o} $ 303 during large flaring episodes using the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) observations. It is found from the RXTE data that during the flares, low energy (3-5 KeV) variations lead the higher energy (8-10 keV) variations by few tens of seconds whereas no significant time lag is observed during the non-flaring states. The observed spectral lag features for flaring events suggest that inverse Compton scattering may be operative, at least in some part of the system. Another possibility is that the sites of particle acceleration may be different for flaring and non-flaring events such as in the microquasar model the flaring radiation may come from hot spots sitting above the black hole while steady state emissions are due to the jets.

The microphysics of collisionless shock waves

Collisionless shocks, that is shocks mediated by electromagnetic processes, are customary in space physics and in astrophysics. They are to be found in a great variety of objects and environments: magnetospheric and heliospheric shocks, supernova remnants, pulsar winds and their nebul\ae, active galactic nuclei, gamma-ray bursts and clusters of galaxies shock waves. Collisionless shock microphysics enters at different stages of shock formation, shock dynamics and particle energization and/or acceleration. It turns out that the shock phenomenon is a multi-scale non-linear problem in time and space. It is complexified by the impact due to high-energy cosmic rays in astrophysical environments. This review adresses the physics of shock formation, shock dynamics and particle acceleration based on a close examination of available multi-wavelength or in-situ observations, analytical and numerical developments. A particular emphasize is made on the different instabilities triggered during the shock formation and in association with particle acceleration processes with regards to the properties of the background upstream medium. It appears that among the most important parameters the background magnetic field through the magnetization and its obliquity is the dominant one. The shock velocity that can reach relativistic speeds has also a strong impact over the development of the micro-instabilities and the fate of particle acceleration. Recent developments of laboratory shock experiments has started to bring some new insights in the physics of space plasma and astrophysical shock waves. A special section is dedicated to new laser plasma experiments probing shock physics

Baryon Loading Efficiency and Particle Acceleration Efficiency of Relativistic Jets: Cases For Low Luminosity BL Lacs

Relativistic jets launched by SMBHs are the most energetic particle accelerators in the universe. However, the baryon mass loading efficiency onto the jets from the accretion and the particle acceleration efficiency in the jets have been veiled in mystery. With the latest data sets, we perform multi-wavelength spectral analysis of quiescent spectra of 13 TeV gamma-ray detected HBLs following one-zone synchrotron-self-Compton (SSC) model. We determine the minimum, cooling break, and maximum electron Lorentz factors following the diffusive shock acceleration (DSA) theory. We find that HBLs have $P_B/P_e\sim0.025$ where $P_B$ and $P_e$ is the Poynting and electron power, respectively. The radiative efficiency of the jets is found to be $P_{\rm rad}/P_{\rm jet}\sim0.026$. $P_{\rm rad}$ and $P_{\rm jet}$ is the radiative and total jet power, respectively. We find that the jet power relates to the black hole mass as $P_{\rm jet}/L_{\rm Edd}\sim0.036$. We further find that HBLs have the mass loading efficiency of $\xi\equiv \dot{M}_{\rm jet}/\dot{M}_{\rm acc}\sim6\times10^{-3}$, where $\dot{M}_{\rm jet}$ and $\dot{M}_{\rm acc}$ is the mass outflow and inflow rate, respectively. Although $\dot{M}_{\rm acc}$ is still uncertain, the inferred baryon mass loading efficiency of HBLs is marginally consistent with global general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic simulations for the jet launching from radiative-inefficient accretion flows. We further investigate the particle acceleration efficiency of low power AGN jets in the blazar zone. Our HBL samples ubiquitously have the particle acceleration efficiency of $\eta_g\sim10^{4}$, which is inefficient to accelerate particles up to the UHECR regime in the jets. This implies that the UHECR acceleration sites should be other than the blazar zones of quiescent low power AGN jets, if one assumes the one-zone SSC model based on the DSA theory. [abridged]

A Cold Flare With Delayed Heating

Recently, a number of peculiar flares have been reported, which demonstrate significant non-thermal particle signatures with a low, if any, thermal emission, that implies close association of the observed emission with the primary energy release/electron acceleration region. This paper presents a flare that appears a "cold" one at the impulsive phase, while displaying a delayed heating later on. Using HXR data from \kw, microwave observations by SSRT, RSTN, NoRH and NoRP, context observations, and 3D modeling, we study the energy release, particle acceleration and transport, and the relationships between the nonthermal and thermal signatures. The flaring process is found to involve interaction between a small and a big loop and the accelerated particles divided in roughly equal numbers between them. Precipitation of the electrons from the small loop produced only weak thermal response because the loop volume was small, while the electrons trapped in the big loop lost most of their energy in the coronal part of the loop, which resulted in the coronal plasma heating but no or only weak chromospheric evaporation, and thus unusually weak soft X-ray emission. Energy losses of fast electrons in the big tenuous loop were slow resulting in the observed delay of the plasma heating. We determined that the impulsively accelerated electron population had a beamed angular distribution in the direction of electric force along the magnetic field of the small loop. The accelerated particle transport in big loop was primarily mediated by turbulent waves like in the other reported cold flares.

Multiple current sheet systems in the outer heliosphere: Energy release and turbulence [Cross-Listing]

In the outer heliosphere, beyond the solar wind termination shock, it is expected that the warped heliospheric current sheet forms a region of closely-packed, multiple, thin current sheets. Such a system may be subject to the ion-kinetic tearing instability, and hence generate magnetic islands and hot populations of ions associated with magnetic reconnection. Reconnection processes in this environment have important implications for local particle transport, and for particle acceleration at reconnection sites and in turbulence. We study this complex environment by means of three-dimensional hybrid simulations over long time scales, in order to capture the evolution from linear growth of the tearing instability to a fully developed turbulent state at late times. The final state develops from the highly ordered initial state via both forward and inverse cascades. Component and spectral anisotropy in the magnetic fluctuations is present when a guide field is included. The inclusion of a population of new-born interstellar pickup protons does not strongly affect these results. Finally, we conclude that reconnection between multiple current sheets can act as an important source of turbulence in the outer heliosphere, with implications for energetic particle acceleration and propagation.

Particle acceleration in explosive relativistic reconnection events and Crab Nebula gamma-ray flares

We develop a model of particle acceleration in explosive reconnection events in relativistic magnetically-dominated plasmas and apply it to explain gamma-ray flares from the Crab Nebula. The model relies on development of current-driven instabilities on macroscopic scales (not related to plasma skin depths). Using analytical and numerical methods (fluid and particle-in-cell simulations), we study a number of model problems in relativistic magnetically-dominated plasma: (i) we extend Syrovatsky's classical model of explosive X-point collapse to magnetically-dominated plasmas; (ii) we consider instability of two-dimensional force-free system of magnetic flux tubes; (iii) we consider merger of two zero total poloidal current magnetic flux tubes. In all cases regimes of spontaneous and driven evolution are investigated. We identify two stages of particle acceleration: (i) fast explosive prompt X-point collapse and (ii) ensuing island merger. The fastest acceleration occurs during the initial catastrophic X-point collapse, with the reconnection electric field of the order of the magnetic field. The explosive stage of reconnection produces non-thermal power-law tails with slopes that depend on the average magnetization. The X-point collapse stage is followed by magnetic island merger that dissipates a large fraction of the initial magnetic energy in a regime of forced reconnection, further accelerating the particles, but proceeds at a slower reconnection rate. Crab flares result from the initial explosive stages of magnetic island mergers of magnetic flux tubes produced in the bulk of nebula at intermediate polar regions. The post-termination shock plasma flow in the wind sectors with mild magnetization naturally generates large-scale highly magnetized structures. Internal kink-like instabilities lead to the formation of macroscopic current-carrying magnetic flux tubes that merge explosively.

Shocks in nova outflows. II. Synchrotron radio emission

The discovery of GeV gamma-rays from classical novae indicates that shocks and relativistic particle acceleration are energetically key in these events. Further evidence for shocks comes from thermal keV X-ray emission and an early peak in the radio light curve on a timescale of months with a brightness temperature which is too high to result from freely expanding photo-ionized gas. Paper I developed a one dimensional model for the thermal emission from nova shocks. This work concluded that the shock-powered radio peak cannot be thermal if line cooling operates in the post-shock gas at the rate determined by collisional ionization equilibrium. Here we extend this calculation to include non-thermal synchrotron emission. Applying our model to three classical novae, we constrain the amplification of the magnetic field $\epsilon_B$ and the efficiency $\epsilon_e$ of accelerating relativistic electrons of characteristic Lorentz factor $\gamma \sim 100$. If the shocks are radiative (low velocity $v_{\rm sh} \lesssim 1000$ km s$^{-1}$) and cover a large solid angle of the nova outflow, as likely characterize those producing gamma-rays, then values of $\epsilon_e \sim 0.01-0.1$ are required to achieve the peak radio brightness for $\epsilon_B = 10^{-2}$. Such high efficiencies exclude secondary pairs from pion decay as the source of the radio-emitting particles, instead favoring the direct acceleration of electrons at the shock. If the radio-emitting shocks are instead adiabatic (high velocity), as likely characterize those responsible for the thermal X-rays, then much higher brightness temperatures are possible, allowing the radio-emitting shocks to cover a smaller outflow solid angle.

Constraining the efficiency of cosmic ray acceleration by cluster shocks

We study the acceleration of cosmic rays by collisionless structure formation shocks with ENZO grid simulations. Data from the FERMI satellite enable the use of galaxy clusters as a testbed for particle acceleration models. Based on advanced cosmological simulations that include different prescriptions for gas and cosmic rays physics, we use the predicted {\gamma}-ray emission to constrain the shock acceleration efficiency. We infer that the efficiency must be on average <0.1% for cosmic shocks, particularly for the 2<M<5 merger shocks that are mostly responsible for the thermalisation of the intracluster medium. These results emerge, both, from non-radiative and radiative runs including feedback from active galactic nuclei, as well as from zoomed resimulations of a cluster resembling MACSJ1752.0+0440. The limit on the acceleration efficiency we report is lower than what has been assumed in the literature so far. Combined with the information from radio emission in clusters, it appears that a revision of the present understanding of shock acceleration in the ICM is unavoidable.

Particle Acceleration in Relativistic Electron-Ion Outlfows

We use the Los Alamos VPIC code to investigate particle acceleration in relativistic, unmagnetized, collisionless electron-ion plasmas. We run our simulations both with a realistic proton-to-electron mass ratio m_p/m_e = 1836, as well as commonly employed mass ratios of m_p/m_e =100 and 25, and show that results differ among the different cases. In particular, for the physically accurate mass ratio, electron acceleration occurs efficiently in a narrow region of a few hundred inertial lengths near the flow front, producing a power law dN/dgamma ~ gamma^(-p) with p ~ -2 developing over a few decades in energy, while acceleration is weak in the region far downstream. We find 20%, 10%, and 0.2% of the total energy given to the electrons for mass ratios of 25, 100, and 1836 respectively at a time of 2500 (w_p)^-1. Our simulations also show significant magnetic field generation just ahead of and behind the the flow front, with about 1% of the total energy going into the magnetic field for a mass ratio of 25 and 100, and 0.1% for a mass ratio of and 1836. In addition, lower mass ratios show significant fields much further downstream than in the realistic mass ratio case. Our results suggest the region and energetic extent of particle acceleration is directly related to the presence of magnetic field generation. Our work sheds light on the understanding of particle acceleration and emission in gamma-ray bursts, among other relativistic astrophysical outflows, but also underscores the necessity of optimizing numerical and physical parameters, as well as comparing among PIC codes before firm conclusions are drawn from these types of simulations.

Magnetic-Island Contraction and Particle Acceleration in Simulated Eruptive Solar Flares

The mechanism that accelerates particles to the energies required to produce the observed high-energy impulsive emission in solar flares is not well understood. Drake et al. (2006) proposed a mechanism for accelerating electrons in contracting magnetic islands formed by kinetic reconnection in multi-layered current sheets. We apply these ideas to sunward-moving flux ropes (2.5D magnetic islands) formed during fast reconnection in a simulated eruptive flare. A simple analytic model is used to calculate the energy gain of particles orbiting the field lines of the contracting magnetic islands in our ultrahigh-resolution 2.5D numerical simulation. We find that the estimated energy gains in a single island range up to a factor of five. This is higher than that found by Drake et al. for islands in the terrestrial magnetosphere and at the heliopause, due to strong plasma compression that occurs at the flare current sheet. In order to increase their energy by two orders of magnitude and plausibly account for the observed high-energy flare emission, the electrons must visit multiple contracting islands. This mechanism should produce sporadic emission because island formation is intermittent. Moreover, a large number of particles could be accelerated in each magnetohydrodynamic-scale island, which may explain the inferred rates of energetic-electron production in flares. We conclude that island contraction in the flare current sheet is a promising candidate for electron acceleration in solar eruptions.

Particle diffusion and localized acceleration in inhomogeneous AGN jets - Part II: stochastic variation

We study the stochastic variation of blazar emission under a 2-D spatially resolved leptonic jet model we previously developed. Random events of particle acceleration and injection in small zones within the emission region are assumed to be responsible for flux variations. In addition to producing spectral energy distributions that describe the observed flux of Mrk 421, we further analyze the timing properties of the simulated light curves, such as the power spectral density (PSD) at different bands, flux-flux correlations, as well as the cross-correlation function between X-rays and TeV {\gamma}-rays. We find spectral breaks in the PSD at a timescale comparable to the dominant characteristic time scale in the system, which is usually the pre-defined decay time scale of an acceleration event. Cooling imposes a delay, and so PSDs taken at lower energy bands in each emission component (synchrotron or inverse Compton) generally break at longer timescales. The flux-flux correlation between X-rays and TeV {\gamma}-rays can be either quadratic or linear, depending on whether or not there are large variation of the injection into the particle acceleration process. When the relationship is quadratic, the TeV flares lag the X-ray flares, and the optical & GeV flares are large enough to be comparable to the ones in X-ray. When the relationship is linear, the lags are insignificant, and the optical & GeV flares are small.

Gamma-Ray Astronomy from the Ground

The observation of cosmic gamma-rays from the ground is based upon the detection of gamma-ray initiated air showers. At energies between approximately $10^{11}$ eV and $10^{13}$ eV, the imaging air Cherenkov technique is a particularly successful approach to observe gamma-ray sources with energy fluxes as low as $\approx 10^{-13}$ erg\,cm$^{-2}\,$s$^{-1}$. The observations of gamma-rays in this energy band probe particle acceleration in astrophysical plasma conditions and are sensitive to high energy phenomena beyond the standard model of particle physics (e.g., self-annihilating or decaying dark matter, violation of Lorentz invariance, mixing of photons with light pseudo-scalars). The current standing of the field and its major instruments are summarised briefly by presenting selected highlights. A new generation of ground based gamma-ray instruments is currently under development. The perspectives and opportunities of these future facilities will be discussed.

Particle acceleration and magnetic field amplification in hotspots of FR II galaxies: The case study 4C74.26 [Replacement]

It has been suggested that relativistic shocks in extragalactic sources may accelerate the most energetic cosmic rays. However, recent theoretical advances indicating that relativistic shocks are probably unable to accelerate particles to energies much larger than a PeV cast doubt on this. In the present contribution we model the radio to X-ray emission in the southern hotspot of the quasar 4C74.26. The synchrotron radio emission is resolved near the shock with the MERLIN radio-interferometer, and the rapid decay of this emission behind the shock is interpreted as the decay of the downstream magnetic field as expected for small scale turbulence. If our result is confirmed by analyses of other radiogalaxies, it provides firm observational evidence that relativistic shocks at the termination region of powerful jets in FR II radiogalaxies do not accelerate ultra high energy cosmic rays.

Particle acceleration and magnetic field amplification in hotspots of FR II galaxies: The case study 4C74.26

It has been suggested that relativistic shocks in extragalactic sources may accelerate the most energetic cosmic rays. However, recent theoretical advances indicating that relativistic shocks are probably unable to accelerate particles to energies much larger than a PeV cast doubt on this. In the present contribution we model the radio to X-ray emission in the southern hotspot of the quasar 4C74.26. The synchrotron radio emission is resolved near the shock with the MERLIN radio-interferometer, and the rapid decay of this emission behind the shock is interpreted as the decay of the downstream magnetic field as expected for small scale turbulence. If our result is confirmed by analyses of other radiogalaxies, it provides firm observational evidence that relativistic shocks at the termination region of powerful jets in FR II radiogalaxies do not accelerate ultra high energy cosmic rays.

Stochastic Particle Acceleration in Turbulence Generated by the Magnetorotational Instability

We investigate stochastic particle acceleration in accretion flows. It is believed that the magnetorotational instability (MRI) generates turbulence inside accretion flows and that cosmic rays (CRs) are accelerated by the turbulence. We calculate equations of motion for CRs in the turbulent fields generated by MRI with the shearing box approximation without back reaction to the field. The results show that the CRs randomly gain or lose their energies through the interaction with the turbulent fields. The CRs diffuse in the configuration space anisotropically: The diffusion coefficient in direction of the unperturbed flow is about twenty times higher than the Bohm coefficient, while those in the other directions are only a few times higher than the Bohm. The momentum distribution is isotropic, and its evolution can be described by the diffusion equation in momentum space where the diffusion coefficient is a power-law function of the CR momentum. We show that the shear acceleration efficiently works for energetic particles. We also cautiously note that in the shearing box approximation, particles that cross the simulation box many times along the radial direction suffer unphysical runaway acceleration by the Lorentz transformation, which needs to be taken with special care.

Particle Acceleration and the Origin of X-ray Flares in GRMHD simulations of Sgr A*

Significant X-ray variability and flaring has been observed from Sgr A* but is poorly understood from a theoretical standpoint. We perform GRMHD simulations that take into account a population of non-thermal electrons with energy distributions and injection rates that are motivated by PIC simulations of magnetic reconnection. We explore the effects of including these non-thermal electrons on the predicted broadband variability of Sgr A* and find that X-ray variability is a generic result of localizing non-thermal electrons to highly magnetized regions, where particles are likely to be accelerated via magnetic reconnection. The proximity of these high-field regions to the event horizon forms a natural connection between IR and X-ray variability and accounts for the rapid timescales associated with the X-ray flares. The qualitative nature of this variability is consistent with observations, producing X-ray flares that are always coincident with IR flares, but not vice versa, i.e., there are a number of IR flares without X-ray counterparts.

Scalings of intermittent structures in magnetohydrodynamic turbulence [Cross-Listing]

Turbulence is ubiquitous in plasmas, leading to rich dynamics characterized by irregularity, irreversibility, energy fluctuations across many scales, and energy transfer across many scales. Another fundamental and generic feature of turbulence, although sometimes overlooked, is the inhomogeneous dissipation of energy in space and in time. This is a consequence of intermittency, the scale-dependent inhomogeneity of dynamics caused by fluctuations in the turbulent cascade. Intermittency causes turbulent plasmas to self-organize into coherent dissipative structures, which may govern heating, diffusion, particle acceleration, and radiation emissions. In this paper, we present recent progress on understanding intermittency in incompressible magnetohydrodynamic turbulence with a strong guide field. We focus on the statistical analysis of intermittent dissipative structures, which occupy a small fraction of the volume but arguably account for the majority of energy dissipation. We show that, in our numerical simulations, intermittent structures in the current density, vorticity, and Els\"{a}sser vorticities all have nearly identical statistical properties. We propose phenomenological explanations for the scalings based on general considerations of Els\"{a}sser vorticity structures. Finally, we examine the broader implications of intermittency for astrophysical systems.

Non-relativistic perpendicular shocks modeling young supernova remnants: nonstationary dynamics and particle acceleration at forward and reverse shocks

For parameters that are applicable to the conditions at young supernova remnants, we present results of 2D3V particle-in-cell simulations of a non-relativistic plasma shock with a large-scale perpendicular magnetic field inclined at 45-deg angle to the simulation plane to approximate 3D physics. We developed an improved clean setup that uses the collision of two plasma slabs with different density and velocity, leading to the development of two distinctive shocks and a contact discontinuity. The shock formation is mediated by Weibel-type filamentation instabilities that generate magnetic turbulence. Cyclic reformation is observed in both shocks with similar period, for which we note global variations on account of shock rippling and local variations arising from turbulent current filaments. The shock rippling occurs on spatial and temporal scales given by gyro-motions of shock-reflected ions. The drift motion of electrons and ions is not a gradient drift, but commensurates with E x B drift. We observe a stable suprathermal tail in the ion spectra, but no electron acceleration because the amplitude of Buneman modes in the shock foot is insufficient for trapping relativistic electrons. We see no evidence of turbulent reconnection. A comparison with other 2D simulation results suggests that the plasma beta and the ion-to-electron mass ratio are not decisive for efficient electron acceleration, but pre-acceleration efficacy might be reduced with respect to the 2D results once three-dimensional effects are fully accounted for. Other microphysical factors may also be at play to limit the amplitude of Buneman waves or prevent return of electrons to the foot region.

Beaming of particles and synchrotron radiation in relativistic magnetic reconnection [Replacement]

Relativistic reconnection has been invoked as a mechanism for particle acceleration in numerous astrophysical systems. According to idealised analytical models reconnection produces a bulk relativistic outflow emerging from the reconnection sites (X-points). The resulting radiation is therefore highly beamed. Using two-dimensional particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations, we investigate particle and radiation beaming, finding a very different picture. Instead of having a relativistic average bulk motion with isotropic electron velocity distribution in its rest frame, we find that the bulk motion of particles in X-points is similar to their Lorentz factor gamma, and the particles are beamed within about 5/gamma. On the way from the X-point to the magnetic islands, particles turn in the magnetic field, forming a fan confined to the current sheet. Once they reach the islands they isotropise after completing a full Larmor gyration and their radiation is not strongly beamed anymore. The radiation pattern at a given frequency depends on where the corresponding emitting electrons radiate their energy. Lower energy particles that cool slowly spend most of their time in the islands, and their radiation is not highly beamed. Only particles that quickly cool at the edge of the X-points generate a highly beamed fan-like radiation pattern. The radiation emerging from these fast cooling particles is above the burn-off limit (about 100 MeV in the overall rest frame of the reconnecting plasma.) This has significant implications for models of GRBs and AGNs that invoke beaming in that frame at much lower energies.

Beaming of particles and synchrotron radiation in relativistic magnetic reconnection

Relativistic reconnection has been invoked as a mechanism for particle acceleration in numerous astrophysical systems. According to idealised analytical models reconnection produces a bulk relativistic outflow emerging from the reconnection sites (X-points). The resulting radiation is therefore highly beamed. Using two-dimensional particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations, we investigate particle and radiation beaming, finding a very different picture. Instead of having a relativistic average bulk motion with isotropic electron velocity distribution in its rest frame, we find that the bulk motion of particles in X-points is similar to their Lorentz factor gamma, and the particles are beamed within about 5/gamma. On the way from the X-point to the magnetic islands, particles turn in the magnetic field, forming a fan confined to the current sheet. Once they reach the islands they isotropise after completing a full Larmor gyration and their radiation is not strongly beamed anymore. The radiation pattern at a given frequency depends on where the corresponding emitting electrons radiate their energy. Lower energy particles that cool slowly spend most of their time in the islands, and their radiation is not highly beamed. Only particles that quickly cool at the edge of the X-points generate a highly beamed fan-like radiation pattern. The radiation emerging from these fast cooling particles is above the burn-off limit (about 100 MeV in the overall rest frame of the reconnecting plasma.) This has significant implications for models of GRBs and AGNs that invoke beaming in that frame at much lower energies.

Performance of Major Flare Watches from the Max Millennium Program (2001-2010)

The physical processes that trigger solar flares are not well understood and significant debate remains around processes governing particle acceleration, energy partition, and particle and energy transport. Observations at high resolution in energy, time, and space are required in multiple energy ranges over the whole course of many flares in order to build an understanding of these processes. Obtaining high-quality, co-temporal data from ground- and space- based instruments is crucial to achieving this goal and was the primary motivation for starting the Max Millennium program and Major Flare Watch (MFW) alerts, aimed at coordinating observations of all flares >X1 GOES X-ray classification (including those partially occulted by the limb). We present a review of the performance of MFWs from 1 February 2001 to 31 May 2010, inclusive, that finds: (1) 220 MFWs were issued in 3,407 days considered (6.5% duty cycle), with these occurring in 32 uninterrupted periods that typically last 2-8 days; (2) 56% of flares >X1 were caught, occurring in 19% of MFW days; (3) MFW periods ended at suitable times, but substantial gain could have been achieved in percentage of flares caught if periods had started 24 h earlier; (4) MFWs successfully forecast X-class flares with a true skill statistic (TSS) verification metric score of 0.500, that is comparable to a categorical flare/no-flare interpretation of the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Centre probabilistic forecasts (TSS = 0.488).

Particle acceleration, magnetization and radiation in relativistic shocks

What are the mechanisms of particle acceleration and radiation, as well as magnetic field build up and decay in relativistic shocks are open questions with important implications to various phenomena in high energy astrophysics. While the Weibel instability is possibly responsible for magnetic field build up and diffusive shock acceleration is a model for acceleration, both have problems and current PIC simulation show that particles are accelerated only under special conditions and the magnetic field decays on a short length scale. We present here a novel model for the structure and the emission of highly relativistic collisionless shocks. The model takes into account (and is based on) non-local energy and momentum transport across the shock front via emission and absorption of high-energy photons. This leads to a pre-acceleration of the fluid and pre-amplificaiton of the magnetic fields in the upstream region. Both have drastic implications on the shock structure. The model explains the persistence of the shock generated magnetic field at large distances from the shock front. The dissipation of this magnetic field results in a continuous particle acceleration within the downstream region. The model suggests two non-uniform emission zones (the downstream and the upstream), that give rise to three emission components with different spectral and temporal properties. A unique feature of the model is the existence of an "attractor", toward which any shock will evolve. This enables us to estimate from first principles the synchrotron and inverse Compton spectrum of the downstream emission. The model is applicable to any relativistic shock, but its distinctive features show up only for large compactness. We demonstrate that prompt and afterglow Gamma-Ray Bursts' shocks satisfy the relevant conditions and compare their observations with the predictions.

Investigating Particle Acceleration in Protostellar Jets: The Triple Radio Continuum Source in Serpens

While most protostellar jets present free-free emission at radio wavelengths, synchrotron emission has been also proposed to be present in a handful of these objects. The presence of non-thermal emission has been inferred by negative spectral indices at centimeter wavelengths. In one case (the HH 80-81 jet arising from a massive protostar), its synchrotron nature was confirmed by the detection of linearly polarized radio emission. One of the main consequences of these results is that synchrotron emission implies the presence of relativistic particles among the non-relativistic material of these jets. Therefore, an acceleration mechanism should be taking place. The most probable scenario is that particles are accelerated when the jets strongly impact against the dense envelope surrounding the protostar. Here, we present an analysis of radio observations obtained with the Very Large Array of the Triple Radio Source in the Serpens star-forming region. This object is known to be a radio jet arising from an intermediate-mass protostar. It is also one of the first protostellar jets where the presence of non-thermal emission was proposed. We analysed the dynamics of the jet as well as the nature of the emission and discuss these issues in the context of the physical parameters of the jet and the particle acceleration phenomenon.

Particle Acceleration by a Solar Flare Termination Shock

Solar flares - the most powerful explosions in the solar system - are also efficient particle accelerators, capable of energizing a large number of charged particles to relativistic speeds. A termination shock is often invoked in the standard model of solar flares as a possible driver for particle acceleration, yet its existence and role have remained controversial. We present observations of a solar flare termination shock and trace its morphology and dynamics using high-cadence radio imaging spectroscopy. We show that a disruption of the shock coincides with an abrupt reduction of the energetic electron population. The observed properties of the shock are well-reproduced by simulations. These results strongly suggest that a termination shock is responsible, at least in part, for accelerating energetic electrons in solar flares.

Origin of the Proton-to-Helium Ratio Anomaly in Cosmic Rays [Replacement]

Recent data on Galactic cosmic rays (CRs) revealed that the helium energy spectrum is harder than the proton spectrum. The AMS experiment has now reported that the proton-to-helium ratio as function of rigidity $R$ (momentum-to-charge ratio) falls off steadily as p/He $\sim R^\Delta$, with $\Delta\approx$-0.08 between $R\sim$40 GV and $R\sim$2 TV. Besides, the single spectra of proton and helium are found to progressively harden at $R\gtrsim$100 GV. The p/He anomaly is generally ascribed to particle-dependent acceleration mechanisms occurring in Galactic CR sources. However, this explanation poses a challenge to the known mechanisms of particle acceleration since they are believed to be "universal", composition blind, rigidity mechanisms. Using the new AMS data, we show that the p/He anomaly can be simply explained in terms of a two-component scenario where the GeV-TeV flux is ascribed to a hydrogen-rich source, possibly a nearby supernova remnant, characterized by a soft acceleration spectrum. This simple idea provides a common interpretation for the p/He ratio and for the single spectra of proton and helium: both anomalies are explained by a flux transition between two components. The "universality" of particle acceleration in sources is not violated in this model. A distinctive signature of our scenario is the high-energy flattening of the p/He ratio at multi-TeV energies, which is hinted at by existing data and will be resolutely tested by new space experiments ISS-CREAM and CALET.

Origin of the Proton-to-Helium Ratio Anomaly in Cosmic Rays

Recent data on Galactic cosmic rays revealed that the helium energy spectrum is harder than the proton spectrum. The AMS experiment has now reported that the proton-to-helium ratio as function of rigidity $R$ (momentum-to-charge ratio) falls off steadily as p/He $\sim R^\Delta$, with $\Delta\approx$-0.08 between $R\sim$40 GV and $R\sim$2 TV. Besides, the single spectra of proton and helium are found to progressively harden at $R\gtrsim$100 GV. The p/He anomaly is generally ascribed to particle-dependent acceleration mechanisms occurring in Galactic cosmic-ray sources. However, this explanation poses a challenge to the known mechanisms of particle acceleration since they are believed to be "universal", composition blind rigidity mechanisms. Using the new AMS data, we show that the p/He anomaly can be simply explained in terms of a two-component scenario where the GeV-TeV flux is ascribed to a hydrogen-rich source, possibly a nearby supernova remnant, characterized by a soft acceleration spectrum. This simple idea provides a common interpretation for the p/He ratio and for the single spectra of proton and helium: both anomalies are explained by a flux transition between two components. The "universality" of particle acceleration in sources is not violated in this model. A distinctive signature of our scenario is the high-energy flattening of the p/He ratio at multi-TeV energies, which is hinted by existing data and will be resolutely tested by new space experiments ISS-CREAM and CALET.

Origin of the Proton-to-Helium Ratio Anomaly in Cosmic Rays [Replacement]

Recent data on Galactic cosmic rays (CRs) revealed that the helium energy spectrum is harder than the proton spectrum. The AMS experiment has now reported that the proton-to-helium ratio as function of rigidity $R$ (momentum-to-charge ratio) falls off steadily as p/He $\sim R^\Delta$, with $\Delta\approx$-0.08 between $R\sim$40 GV and $R\sim$2 TV. Besides, the single spectra of proton and helium are found to progressively harden at $R\gtrsim$100 GV. The p/He anomaly is generally ascribed to particle-dependent acceleration mechanisms occurring in Galactic CR sources. However, this explanation poses a challenge to the known mechanisms of particle acceleration since they are believed to be "universal", composition blind, rigidity mechanisms. Using the new AMS data, we show that the p/He anomaly can be simply explained in terms of a two-component scenario where the GeV-TeV flux is ascribed to a hydrogen-rich source, possibly a nearby supernova remnant, characterized by a soft acceleration spectrum. This simple idea provides a common interpretation for the p/He ratio and for the single spectra of proton and helium: both anomalies are explained by a flux transition between two components. The "universality" of particle acceleration in sources is not violated in this model. A distinctive signature of our scenario is the high-energy flattening of the p/He ratio at multi-TeV energies, which is hinted at by existing data and will be resolutely tested by new space experiments ISS-CREAM and CALET.

Modeling high-energy pulsar lightcurves from first principles

Current models of gamma-ray lightcurves in pulsars suffer from large uncertainties on the precise location of particle acceleration and radiation. Here, we present an attempt to alleviate these difficulties by solving for the electromagnetic structure of the oblique magnetosphere, particle acceleration, and the emission of radiation self-consistently, using 3D spherical particle-in-cell simulations. We find that the low-energy radiation is synchro-curvature radiation from the polar-cap regions within the light cylinder. In contrast, the high-energy emission is synchrotron radiation that originates exclusively from the Y-point and the equatorial current sheet where relativistic magnetic reconnection accelerates particles. In most cases, synthetic high-energy lightcurves contain two peaks that form when the current sheet sweeps across the observer's line of sight. We find clear evidence of caustics in the emission pattern from the current sheet. High-obliquity solutions can present up to two additional secondary peaks from energetic particles in the wind region accelerated by the reconnection-induced flow near the current sheet. The high-energy radiative efficiency depends sensitively on the viewing angle, and decreases with increasing pulsar inclination. The high-energy emission is concentrated in the equatorial regions where most of the pulsar spindown is released and dissipated. These results have important implications for the interpretation of gamma-ray pulsar data.

Modeling high-energy pulsar lightcurves from first principles [Replacement]

Current models of gamma-ray lightcurves in pulsars suffer from large uncertainties on the precise location of particle acceleration and radiation. Here, we present an attempt to alleviate these difficulties by solving for the electromagnetic structure of the oblique magnetosphere, particle acceleration, and the emission of radiation self-consistently, using 3D spherical particle-in-cell simulations. We find that the low-energy radiation is synchro-curvature radiation from the polar-cap regions within the light cylinder. In contrast, the high-energy emission is synchrotron radiation that originates exclusively from the Y-point and the equatorial current sheet where relativistic magnetic reconnection accelerates particles. In most cases, synthetic high-energy lightcurves contain two peaks that form when the current sheet sweeps across the observer's line of sight. We find clear evidence of caustics in the emission pattern from the current sheet. High-obliquity solutions can present up to two additional secondary peaks from energetic particles in the wind region accelerated by the reconnection-induced flow near the current sheet. The high-energy radiative efficiency depends sensitively on the viewing angle, and decreases with increasing pulsar inclination. The high-energy emission is concentrated in the equatorial regions where most of the pulsar spindown is released and dissipated. These results have important implications for the interpretation of gamma-ray pulsar data.

Type IIn supernovae as sources of high energy astrophysical neutrinos

It is shown that high-energy astrophysical neutrinos observed in the IceCube experiment can be produced by protons accelerated in extragalactic Type IIn supernova remnants by shocks propagating in the dense circumstellar medium. The nonlinear diffusive shock acceleration model is used for description of particle acceleration. We calculate the neutrino spectrum produced by an individual Type IIn supernova and the spectrum of neutrino background produced by IIn supernovae in the expanding Universe. We also found that the arrival direction of one Icecube neutrino candidate (track event 47) is at 1.35$^{\circ }$ from Type IIn supernova 2005bx.

Novae as Tevatrons: Prospects for CTA and IceCube

The discovery of novae as sources of ~GeV gamma-rays highlights the key role of shocks and relativistic particle acceleration in these transient systems. Although there is evidence for a spectral cut-off above energies ~1-100 GeV at particular epochs in some novae, the maximum particle energy achieved in these accelerators has remained an open question. The high densities of the nova ejecta (~10 orders of magnitude larger than in supernova remnants) render the gas far upstream of the shock neutral and shielded from ionizing radiation. The amplification of the magnetic field needed for diffusive shock acceleration requires ionized gas, thus confining the acceleration process to a narrow photo-ionized layer immediately ahead of the shock. Based on the growth rate in this layer of the hybrid non-resonant cosmic ray current-driven instability (considering also ion-neutral damping), we quantify the maximum particle energy, Emax, across the range of shock velocities and upstream densities of interest. We find values of Emax ~ 10 GeV - 10 TeV, which are broadly consistent with the inferred spectral cut-offs, but which could also in principle lead to emission extending to higher energies >100 GeV accessible to atmosphere Cherenkov telescopes, such as the planned Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA). Detecting TeV neutrinos with IceCube in hadronic scenarios appears to be more challenging, although the prospects are improved if the shock power during the earliest, densest phases of the nova outburst is higher than is implied by the observed GeV light curves, due to downscattering of the gamma-rays by electrons within the ejecta. Novae provide ideal nearby laboratories to study magnetic field amplification and the onset of cosmic ray acceleration, because other time-dependent sources (e.g. radio supernovae) typically occur too distant to detect as gamma-ray sources.

Magnetic fields, non-thermal radiation and particle acceleration in colliding winds of WR-O stars

Non-thermal emission has been detected in WR-stars for many years at long wavelengths spectral range, in general attributed to synchrotron emission. Two key ingredients are needed to explain such emissions, namely magnetic fields and relativistic particles. Particles can be accelerated to relativistic speeds by Fermi processes at strong shocks. Therefore, strong synchrotron emission is usually attributed to WR binarity. The magnetic field may also be amplified at shocks, however the actual picture of the magnetic field geometry, intensity, and its role on the acceleration of particles at WR binary systems is still unclear. In this work we discuss the recent developments in MHD modelling of wind-wind collision regions by means of numerical simulations, and the coupled particle acceleration processes related.

Radiative Magnetic Reconnection in Astrophysics

I review a new rapidly growing area of high-energy plasma astrophysics --- radiative magnetic reconnection, i.e., a reconnection regime where radiation reaction influences reconnection dynamics, energetics, and nonthermal particle acceleration. This influence be may be manifested via a number of astrophysically important radiative effects, such as radiation-reaction limits on particle acceleration, radiative cooling, radiative resistivity, braking of reconnection outflows by radiation drag, radiation pressure, viscosity, and even pair creation at highest energy densities. Self-consistent inclusion of these effects in magnetic reconnection theory and modeling calls for serious modifications to our overall theoretical approach to the problem. In addition, prompt reconnection-powered radiation often represents our only observational diagnostic tool for studying remote astrophysical systems; this underscores the importance of developing predictive modeling capabilities to connect the underlying physical conditions in a reconnecting system to observable radiative signatures. This Chapter gives an overview of recent theoretical progress in developing basic physical understanding of radiative reconnection, with a special emphasis on astrophysically important radiation mechanisms like synchrotron, curvature, and inverse-Compton. It also offers a broad review of key high-energy astrophysical applications of radiative reconnection, such as: pulsar wind nebulae and magnetospheres, accreting black-hole coronae and jets in XRBs and AGN, magnetospheres of magnetars, and Gamma-Ray Bursts. Finally, this Chapter discusses the most critical open questions and outlines the directions for future research in this exciting new frontier of plasma astrophysics.

Particle acceleration at reconnecting separator current layers

The aim of this work is to investigate and characterise particle behaviour in a 3D MHD model of a reconnecting magnetic separator. We use a relativistic guiding-centre test-particle code to investigate electron and proton acceleration in snapshots from 3D MHD separator reconnection experiments, and compare the results with findings from an analytical separator reconnection model studied in a previous investigation. The behaviour (and acceleration) of large distributions of particles are examined in detail for both analytical and numerical separator reconnection models. Differences in acceleration sites are recovered and discussed, together with the dependence of final particle energy ranges upon the dimensions of the models and the stage of the (time-dependent) MHD reconnection event. We discuss the implications of these results for observed magnetic separators in the solar corona.

Particle acceleration at reconnecting separator current layers [Replacement]

The aim of this work is to investigate and characterise particle behaviour in a 3D magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) model of a reconnecting magnetic separator. We use a relativistic guiding-centre test-particle code to investigate electron and proton acceleration in snapshots from 3D MHD separator reconnection experiments, and compare the results with findings from an analytical separator reconnection model studied in a previous investigation. The behaviour and acceleration of large distributions of particles are examined in detail for both analytical and numerical separator reconnection models. Accelerated particle orbit trajectories are shown to follow the separator before leaving the system along the separatrix surface of one of the nulls (determined by particle species) in the system of both models. A sufficiently localised electric field about the separator causes the orbits to appear to follow the spine bounding the separatrix surface field lines instead. We analyse and discuss the locations and spread of accelerated particle orbit final positions, which are seen to change over time in the numerical separator reconnection model. We deduce a simple relationship between the final energy range of particle orbits and the model dimensions, and discuss its implications for observed magnetic separators in the solar corona.

Particle dynamics in a non-flaring solar active region model [Replacement]

The aim of this work is to investigate and characterise particle behaviour in an (observationally-driven) 3D MHD model of the solar atmosphere above a slowly evolving, non-flaring active region. We use a relativistic guiding-centre particle code to investigate the behaviour of selected particle orbits, distributed throughout a single snapshot of the 3D MHD simulation. Two distinct particle acceleration behaviours are recovered, which affect both electrons and protons: (i) direct acceleration along field lines and (ii) tangential drifting of guiding centres with respect to local magnetic field. However, up to 40\% of all particles actually experience a form of (high energy) particle trap, because of changes in the direction of the electric field and unrelated to the strength of the magnetic field; such particles are included in the first category. Additionally, category (i) electron and proton orbits undergo surprisingly strong acceleration to non-thermal energies ($\lesssim42$MeV), because of the strength and extent of super-Dreicer electric fields created by the MHD simulation. Reducing the electric field strength of the MHD model does not significantly affect the efficiency of the (electric field-based) trapping mechanism, but does reduce the peak energies gained by orbits. We discuss the implications for future experiments, which aim to simulate non-flaring active region heating and reconnection.

Particle dynamics in a non-flaring solar active region model

The aim of this work is to investigate and characterise particle behaviour in a (observationally-driven) 3D MHD model of the solar atmosphere above a slowly evolving, non-flaring active region. We use a relativistic guiding-centre particle code to investigate particle acceleration in a single snapshot of the 3D MHD simulation. Despite the lack of flare-like behaviour in the active region, direct acceleration of electrons and protons to non-thermal energies ($\lesssim420$MeV) was found, yielding spectra with high-energy tails which conform to a power law. Examples of particle dynamics, including particle trapping caused by local electric rather than magnetic field effects, are observed and discussed, together with implications for future experiments which simulate non-flaring active region heating and reconnection.

Particle acceleration in the vacuum gaps in black hole magnetospheres [Replacement]

We consider particle acceleration in vacuum gaps in magnetospheres of black holes powered through Blandford-Znajek mechanism and embedded into radiatively-inefficient accretion flow (RIAF) environment. In such situation the gap height is limited by the onset of gamma-gamma pair production on the infrared photons originating from the RIAF. We numerically calculate acceleration and propagation of charged particles taking into account the detailed structure of electric and magnetic field in the gap and in the entire black hole magnetosphere, radiative energy losses and interactions of gamma rays produced by the propagated charged particles with the background radiation field of RIAF. We show that the presence of the vacuum gap has clear observational signatures. The spectra of emission from gaps embedded into a relatively high luminosity RIAF are dominated by the inverse Compton emission with a sharp, super-exponential cut-off in the very-high-energy gamma-ray band. The cut-off energy is determined by the properties of the RIAF and is largely independent of the structure of magnetosphere and geometry of the gap.The spectra of the gap residing in low-luminosity RIAFs are dominated by synchrotron / curvature emission with the spectra extending into 1-100 GeV energy range. We also consider the effect of possible acceleration of protons in the gap and find that proton energies could reach the ultra-high-energy cosmic ray (UHECR) range only in extremely low luminosity RIAFs.

Particle acceleration in the vacuum gaps in black hole magnetospheres

We consider particle acceleration in vacuum gaps in magnetospheres of black holes powered through Blandford-Znajek mechanism and embedded into radiatively-inefficient accretion flow (RIAF) environment. In such situation the gap height is limited by the onset of gamma-gamma pair production on the infrared photons originating from the RIAF. We numerically calculate acceleration and propagation of charged particles taking into account the detailed structure of electric and magnetic field in the gap and in the entire black hole magnetosphere, radiative energy losses and interactions of gamma rays produced by the propagated charged particles with the background radiation field of RIAF. We show that the presence of the vacuum gap has clear observational signatures. The spectra of emission from gaps embedded into a relatively high luminosity RIAF are dominated by the inverse Compton emission with a sharp, super-exponential cut-off in the very-high-energy gamma-ray band. The cut-off energy is determined by the properties of the RIAF and is largely independent of the structure of magnetosphere and geometry of the gap.The spectra of the gap residing in low-luminosity RIAFs are dominated by synchrotron / curvature emission with the spectra extending into 1-100 GeV energy range. We also consider the effect of possible acceleration of protons in the gap and find that proton energies could reach the ultra-high-energy cosmic ray (UHECR) range only in extremely low luminosity RIAFs.

VHE gamma-ray observations of transient and variable stellar objects with the MAGIC Telescopes

Galactic transients, X-ray and gamma-ray binaries provide a proper environment for particle acceleration. This leads to the production of gamma rays with energies reaching the GeV-TeV regime. MAGIC has carried out deep observations of different transient and variable stellar objects of which we highlight 4 of them here: LSI+61 303, MWC 656, Cygnus X-1 and SN 2014J. We present the results of those observations, including long-term monitoring of Cygnus X-1 and LSI+61 303 (7 and 8 years, respectively). The former is one of the brightest X-ray sources and best studied microquasars across a broad range of wavelengths, whose steady and variable signal was studied by MAGIC within a multiwavelength scenario. The latest results of an unique object, MWC 656, are also shown in this presentation. This source is the first high-mass X-ray binary system detected that is composed of a black hole and a Be star. Finally, we report on the observations of SN 2014J, the nearest Type Ia SN of the last 40 years. Its proximity and early observation gave a remarkable opportunity to study important features of these powerful events.

Flux and spectral variability of the blazar PKS 2155-304 with XMM-Newton: Evidence of Particle Acceleration and Synchrotron Cooling

We have analyzed XMM-Newton observations of the high energy peaked blazar, PKS 2155-304, made on 24 May 2002 in the 0.3 - 10 keV X-ray band. These observations display a mini-flare, a nearly constant flux period and a strong flux increase. We performed a time-resolved spectral study of the data, by dividing the data into eight segments. We fitted the data with a power-law and a broken power-law model, and in some of the segments we found a noticeable spectral flattening of the source's spectrum below 10 keV. We also performed time-resolved cross-correlation analyses and detected significant hard and soft lags (for the first time in a single observation of this source) during the first and last parts of the observation, respectively. Our analysis of the spectra, the variations of photon-index with flux as well as the correlation and lags between the harder and softer X-ray bands indicate that both the particle acceleration and synchrotron cooling processes make an important contribution to the emission from this blazar. The hard lags indicate a variable acceleration process. We also estimated the magnetic field value using the soft lags. The value of the magnetic field is consistent with the values derived from the broad-band SED modeling of this source.

Ab-initio pulsar magnetosphere: the role of general relativity

It has recently been demonstrated that self-consistent particle-in-cell simulations of low-obliquity pulsar magnetospheres in flat spacetime show weak particle acceleration and no pair production near the poles. We investigate the validity of this conclusion in a more realistic spacetime geometry via general-relativistic particle-in-cell simulations of the aligned pulsar magnetospheres with pair formation. We find that the addition of frame-dragging effect makes local current density along the magnetic field larger than the Goldreich-Julian value, which leads to unscreened parallel electric fields and the ignition of a pair cascade. When pair production is active, we observe field oscillations in the open field bundle which could be related to pulsar radio emission. We conclude that general relativistic effects are essential for the existence of pulsar mechanism in low obliquity rotators.

Gamma-ray pulsars: a gold mine

The most energetic neutron stars, powered by their rotation, are capable of producing pulsed radiation from the radio up to gamma rays with nearly TeV energies. These pulsars are part of the universe of energetic and powerful particle accelerators, using their uniquely fast rotation and formidable magnetic fields to accelerate particles to ultra-relativistic speed. The extreme properties of these stars provide an excellent testing ground, beyond Earth experience, for nuclear, gravitational, and quantum-electrodynamical physics. A wealth of gamma-ray pulsars has recently been discovered with the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope. The energetic gamma rays enable us to probe the magnetospheres of neutron stars and particle acceleration in this exotic environment. We review the latest developments in this field, beginning with a brief overview of the properties and mysteries of rotation-powered pulsars, and then discussing gamma-ray observations and magnetospheric models in more detail.

 

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