Particle acceleration in astrophysical shocks: lessons from kinetic simulations

Anatoly Spitkovsky (Princeton University) // November 6, 2017

Abstract: Shocks in low density plasmas (so-called “collisionless shocks”) are ubiquitous throughout the Universe, and are thought to produce nonthermal particles that extend over decades in energy. I will describe the progress in modeling collisionless shock structure and particle acceleration using ab-initio kinetic simulations, focusing on the current understanding of magnetic field amplification mechanisms, the conditions necessary for particle injection into the acceleration process, and the physics behind the electron-to-ion ratio in shock acceleration. These results will be applied to understanding morphologies of shocks in supernova remnants and galaxy clusters, and to explaining the relative abundances of different species in galactic cosmic rays.

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