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Title: Particle acceleration in laser-driven magnetic reconnection

Particle acceleration induced by magnetic reconnection is thought to be a promising candidate for producing the nonthermal emissions associated with explosive phenomena such as solar flares, pulsar wind nebulae, and jets from active galactic nuclei. Laboratory experiments can play an important role in the study of the detailed microphysics of magnetic reconnection and the dominant particle acceleration mechanisms. We have used two- and three-dimensional particle-in-cell simulations to study particle acceleration in high Lundquist number reconnection regimes associated with laser-driven plasma experiments. For current experimental conditions, we show that nonthermal electrons can be accelerated to energies more than an order of magnitude larger than the initial thermal energy. The nonthermal electrons gain their energy mainly from the reconnection electric field near the X points, and particle injection into the reconnection layer and escape from the finite system establish a distribution of energies that resembles a power-law spectrum. Energetic electrons can also become trapped inside the plasmoids that form in the current layer and gain additional energy from the electric field arising from the motion of the plasmoid. We compare simulations for finite and infinite periodic systems to demonstrate the importance of particle escape on the shape of the spectrum. Based onmore » our findings, we provide an analytical estimate of the maximum electron energy and threshold condition for observing suprathermal electron acceleration in terms of experimentally tunable parameters. We also discuss experimental signatures, including the angular distribution of the accelerated particles, and construct synthetic detector spectra. Finally, these results open the way for novel experimental studies of particle acceleration induced by reconnection.« less
ORCiD logo [1] ;  [1] ;  [2]
  1. Stanford Univ., Stanford, CA (United States); SLAC National Accelerator Lab., Menlo Park, CA (United States)
  2. SLAC National Accelerator Lab., Menlo Park, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
AC11339893; AC02-76SF00515
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Physics of Plasmas
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 24; Journal Issue: 4; Journal ID: ISSN 1070-664X
American Institute of Physics (AIP)
Research Org:
SLAC National Accelerator Lab., Menlo Park, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1361787