THE EFFECT of COOLING on PARTICLE TRAJECTORIES and ACCELERATION in RELATIVISTIC MAGNETIC RECONNECTION

Daniel Kagan, Ehud Nakar, Tsvi Piran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The maximum synchrotron burnoff limit of 160 MeV represents a fundamental limit to radiation resulting from electromagnetic particle acceleration in one-zone ideal plasmas. In magnetic reconnection, however, particle acceleration and radiation are decoupled because the electric field is larger than the magnetic field in the diffusion region. We carry out two-dimensional particle-in-cell simulations to determine the extent to which magnetic reconnection can produce synchrotron radiation above the burnoff limit. We use the test particle comparison (TPC) method to isolate the effects of cooling by comparing the trajectories and acceleration efficiencies of test particles incident on such a reconnection region with and without cooling them. We find that the cooled and uncooled particle trajectories are typically similar during acceleration in the reconnection region, and derive an effective limit on particle acceleration that is inversely proportional to the average magnetic field experienced by the particle during acceleration. Using the calculated distribution of this average magnetic field as a function of uncooled final particle energy, we find analytically that cooling does not affect power-law particle energy spectra except at energies far above the synchrotron burnoff limit. Finally, we compare fully cooled and uncooled simulations of reconnection, confirming that the synchrotron burnoff limit does not produce a cutoff in the particle energy spectrum. Our results indicate that the TPC method accurately predicts the effects of cooling on particle acceleration in relativistic reconnection, and that, even far above the burnoff limit, the synchrotron energy of radiation produced in reconnection is not limited by cooling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number155
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume833
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 20 Dec 2016

Funding

FundersFunder number
CNSF-ISF
GRB/SN
I-CORE Center for Excellence in Research in Astrophysics
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme695175
International Studies Association
European Research Council
Israel Science Foundation1277/13

    Keywords

    • acceleration of particles
    • magnetic reconnection
    • radiation mechanisms: non-thermal
    • relativistic processes

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