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Title: Nonthermal ion acceleration by the kink instability in nonrelativistic jets

Abstract

We investigate the self-consistent particle acceleration physics associated with the development of the kink instability (KI) in nonrelativistic, electron-ion plasma jets. Using 3D fully kinetic particle-in-cell simulations, we show that the KI efficiently converts the initial toroidal magnetic field energy into energetic ions. The accelerated ions form a nonthermal power-law tail in the energy spectrum, containing ≃10% of the initial magnetic field energy, with the maximum ion energy extending to the confinement energy of the jet. We find that the ions are efficiently accelerated by the concerted action of the motional electric field and the highly tangled magnetic field that develop in the nonlinear phase of the KI: fast curvature drift motions of ions across magnetic field lines enable their acceleration along the electric field. We further investigate the role of Coulomb collisions in the ion acceleration efficiency and identify the collisional threshold above which nonthermal ion acceleration is suppressed. Our results reveal how energetic ions may result from unstable nonrelativistic plasma jets in space and astrophysics and provide constraints on the plasma conditions required to reproduce this acceleration mechanism in laboratory experiments.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2]; ORCiD logo [1]
  1. SLAC National Accelerator Lab., Menlo Park, CA (United States)
  2. Columbia Univ., New York, NY (United States). Columbia Astrophysics Lab.
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
SLAC National Accelerator Lab., Menlo Park, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1560646
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1543064
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC02-76SF00515; FWP 100237; FWP 100331
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Physics of Plasmas
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 26; Journal Issue: 7; Journal ID: ISSN 1070-664X
Publisher:
American Institute of Physics (AIP)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
70 PLASMA PHYSICS AND FUSION TECHNOLOGY

Citation Formats

Alves, E. P., Zrake, J., and Fiuza, F. Nonthermal ion acceleration by the kink instability in nonrelativistic jets. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. doi:10.1063/1.5098478.
Alves, E. P., Zrake, J., & Fiuza, F. Nonthermal ion acceleration by the kink instability in nonrelativistic jets. United States. doi:10.1063/1.5098478.
Alves, E. P., Zrake, J., and Fiuza, F. Mon . "Nonthermal ion acceleration by the kink instability in nonrelativistic jets". United States. doi:10.1063/1.5098478.
@article{osti_1560646,
title = {Nonthermal ion acceleration by the kink instability in nonrelativistic jets},
author = {Alves, E. P. and Zrake, J. and Fiuza, F.},
abstractNote = {We investigate the self-consistent particle acceleration physics associated with the development of the kink instability (KI) in nonrelativistic, electron-ion plasma jets. Using 3D fully kinetic particle-in-cell simulations, we show that the KI efficiently converts the initial toroidal magnetic field energy into energetic ions. The accelerated ions form a nonthermal power-law tail in the energy spectrum, containing ≃10% of the initial magnetic field energy, with the maximum ion energy extending to the confinement energy of the jet. We find that the ions are efficiently accelerated by the concerted action of the motional electric field and the highly tangled magnetic field that develop in the nonlinear phase of the KI: fast curvature drift motions of ions across magnetic field lines enable their acceleration along the electric field. We further investigate the role of Coulomb collisions in the ion acceleration efficiency and identify the collisional threshold above which nonthermal ion acceleration is suppressed. Our results reveal how energetic ions may result from unstable nonrelativistic plasma jets in space and astrophysics and provide constraints on the plasma conditions required to reproduce this acceleration mechanism in laboratory experiments.},
doi = {10.1063/1.5098478},
journal = {Physics of Plasmas},
number = 7,
volume = 26,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {7}
}

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