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Title: Non-thermal particle acceleration in collisionless relativistic electron–proton reconnection

Abstract

Magnetic reconnection in relativistic collisionless plasmas can accelerate particles and power high-energy emission in various astrophysical systems. Whereas most previous studies focused on relativistic reconnection in pair plasmas, less attention has been paid to electron–ion plasma reconnection, expected in black hole accretion flows and relativistic jets. In this paper, we report a comprehensive particle-in-cell numerical investigation of reconnection in an electron–ion plasma, spanning a wide range of ambient ion magnetizations σi, from the semirelativistic regime (ultrarelativistic electrons but non-relativistic ions, 10 -3 ≪ σ i ≪ 1) to the fully relativistic regime (both species are ultrarelativistic, σi ≫ 1). We investigate how the reconnection rate, electron and ion plasma flows, electric and magnetic field structures, electron/ion energy partitioning, and non-thermal particle acceleration depend on σi. Our key findings are: (1) the reconnection rate is about 0.1 of the Alfvénic rate across all regimes; (2) electrons can form concentrated moderately relativistic outflows even in the semirelativistic, small-σi regime; (3) while the released magnetic energy is partitioned equally between electrons and ions in the ultrarelativistic limit, the electron energy fraction declines gradually with decreased σi and asymptotes to about 0.25 in the semirelativistic regime; and (4) reconnection leads to efficient non-thermal electronmore » acceleration with a σi-dependent power-law index, pi)≃const + 0.7σ i -1/2. Finally, these findings are important for understanding black hole systems and lend support to semirelativistic reconnection models for powering non-thermal emission in blazar jets, offering a natural explanation for the spectral indices observed in these systems.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [3];  [4];  [5]
  1. Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, CO (United States)
  2. Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, CO (United States); Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ (United States)
  3. University of Colorado and National Institute of Standards and Technology, Boulder, CO (United States)
  4. Université Grenoble Alpes, CNRS (France)
  5. Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw (Poland)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, CO (United States); Univ. of New Hampshire, Durham, NH (United States); UChicago Argonne, LLC, Chicago, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
OSTI Identifier:
1512962
Grant/Contract Number:  
SC0008409; SC0008655; AC02-06CH11357
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 473; Journal Issue: 4; Journal ID: ISSN 0035-8711
Publisher:
Royal Astronomical Society
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
43 PARTICLE ACCELERATORS; acceleration of particles; accretion; accretion discs; magnetic reconnection; relativistic processes; BL Lacertae objects: general; X-rays: binaries

Citation Formats

Werner, G. R., Uzdensky, D. A., Begelman, M. C., Cerutti, B., and Nalewajko, K. Non-thermal particle acceleration in collisionless relativistic electron–proton reconnection. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1093/mnras/stx2530.
Werner, G. R., Uzdensky, D. A., Begelman, M. C., Cerutti, B., & Nalewajko, K. Non-thermal particle acceleration in collisionless relativistic electron–proton reconnection. United States. doi:10.1093/mnras/stx2530.
Werner, G. R., Uzdensky, D. A., Begelman, M. C., Cerutti, B., and Nalewajko, K. Thu . "Non-thermal particle acceleration in collisionless relativistic electron–proton reconnection". United States. doi:10.1093/mnras/stx2530. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1512962.
@article{osti_1512962,
title = {Non-thermal particle acceleration in collisionless relativistic electron–proton reconnection},
author = {Werner, G. R. and Uzdensky, D. A. and Begelman, M. C. and Cerutti, B. and Nalewajko, K.},
abstractNote = {Magnetic reconnection in relativistic collisionless plasmas can accelerate particles and power high-energy emission in various astrophysical systems. Whereas most previous studies focused on relativistic reconnection in pair plasmas, less attention has been paid to electron–ion plasma reconnection, expected in black hole accretion flows and relativistic jets. In this paper, we report a comprehensive particle-in-cell numerical investigation of reconnection in an electron–ion plasma, spanning a wide range of ambient ion magnetizations σi, from the semirelativistic regime (ultrarelativistic electrons but non-relativistic ions, 10-3 ≪ σi ≪ 1) to the fully relativistic regime (both species are ultrarelativistic, σi ≫ 1). We investigate how the reconnection rate, electron and ion plasma flows, electric and magnetic field structures, electron/ion energy partitioning, and non-thermal particle acceleration depend on σi. Our key findings are: (1) the reconnection rate is about 0.1 of the Alfvénic rate across all regimes; (2) electrons can form concentrated moderately relativistic outflows even in the semirelativistic, small-σi regime; (3) while the released magnetic energy is partitioned equally between electrons and ions in the ultrarelativistic limit, the electron energy fraction declines gradually with decreased σi and asymptotes to about 0.25 in the semirelativistic regime; and (4) reconnection leads to efficient non-thermal electron acceleration with a σi-dependent power-law index, p(σi)≃const + 0.7σi-1/2. Finally, these findings are important for understanding black hole systems and lend support to semirelativistic reconnection models for powering non-thermal emission in blazar jets, offering a natural explanation for the spectral indices observed in these systems.},
doi = {10.1093/mnras/stx2530},
journal = {Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society},
number = 4,
volume = 473,
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {9}
}

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