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Title: Acceleration of charged particles to extremely large energies by a sub-Dreicer electric field

Abstract

Acceleration of a fraction of initially low-energy electrons in a cold, collisional plasma to energies orders of magnitude larger than thermal is shown to be possible with a sub-Dreicer electric field. Because such an electric field does not satisfy the runaway condition, any acceleration will be statistical. Random scattering collisions are probabilistic such that there is 63% chance that a particle collides after traveling one mean free path and a 37% chance of not colliding. If one considers only the electrons that do not collide on traversing a mean free path and also considers that the collisional mean free path scales quadratically with particle kinetic energy, one realizes that there will be a small fraction of electrons that never collide and are accelerated to increasingly high energy. Because the mean free path scales quadratically with kinetic energy, after each successfully traveled mean free path, continued acceleration becomes more likely. This model is applied to an MHD-driven plasma jet experiment at Caltech and it is shown that electrons are accelerated by an electric field associated with a fast magnetic reconnection event occurring as the jet breaks apart. This statistical acceleration model indicates that a fraction ~1.3 × 10 -7 of electronsmore » with initial energy distributed according to a Maxwellian with T = 2 eV will be accelerated to 6 keV in the Caltech experiment and then collide to produce the observed X-ray signal. It is demonstrated that the statistical acceleration model provides a credible explanation for the production of solar energetic electrons.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1]
  1. California Inst. of Technology (CalTech), Pasadena, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
California Inst. of Technology (CalTech), Pasadena, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
OSTI Identifier:
1574937
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1504518
Grant/Contract Number:  
FG02-04ER54755
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Physics of Plasmas
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 26; Journal Issue: 4; 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

Marshall, R. S., and Bellan, P. M. Acceleration of charged particles to extremely large energies by a sub-Dreicer electric field. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. doi:10.1063/1.5081716.
Marshall, R. S., & Bellan, P. M. Acceleration of charged particles to extremely large energies by a sub-Dreicer electric field. United States. doi:10.1063/1.5081716.
Marshall, R. S., and Bellan, P. M. Tue . "Acceleration of charged particles to extremely large energies by a sub-Dreicer electric field". United States. doi:10.1063/1.5081716.
@article{osti_1574937,
title = {Acceleration of charged particles to extremely large energies by a sub-Dreicer electric field},
author = {Marshall, R. S. and Bellan, P. M.},
abstractNote = {Acceleration of a fraction of initially low-energy electrons in a cold, collisional plasma to energies orders of magnitude larger than thermal is shown to be possible with a sub-Dreicer electric field. Because such an electric field does not satisfy the runaway condition, any acceleration will be statistical. Random scattering collisions are probabilistic such that there is 63% chance that a particle collides after traveling one mean free path and a 37% chance of not colliding. If one considers only the electrons that do not collide on traversing a mean free path and also considers that the collisional mean free path scales quadratically with particle kinetic energy, one realizes that there will be a small fraction of electrons that never collide and are accelerated to increasingly high energy. Because the mean free path scales quadratically with kinetic energy, after each successfully traveled mean free path, continued acceleration becomes more likely. This model is applied to an MHD-driven plasma jet experiment at Caltech and it is shown that electrons are accelerated by an electric field associated with a fast magnetic reconnection event occurring as the jet breaks apart. This statistical acceleration model indicates that a fraction ~1.3 × 10-7 of electrons with initial energy distributed according to a Maxwellian with T = 2 eV will be accelerated to 6 keV in the Caltech experiment and then collide to produce the observed X-ray signal. It is demonstrated that the statistical acceleration model provides a credible explanation for the production of solar energetic electrons.},
doi = {10.1063/1.5081716},
journal = {Physics of Plasmas},
number = 4,
volume = 26,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {4}
}

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