Significant particle energization is observed to occur in numerous astrophysical environments, and in the standard models, this acceleration occurs alongside energy conversion processes including collisionless shocks or magnetic reconnection. Recent platforms for laboratory experiments using magnetized laser-produced plasmas have opened opportunities to study these particle acceleration processes in the laboratory. Through fully kinetic particle-in-cell simulations, we investigate acceleration mechanisms in experiments with colliding magnetized laser-produced plasmas, with geometry and parameters matched to recent high-Mach number reconnection experiments with externally controlled magnetic fields. 2-D simulations demonstrate significant particle acceleration with three phases of energization: first, a "direct" Fermi acceleration driven by approaching magnetized plumes; second, x-line acceleration during magnetic reconnection of anti-parallel fields; and finally, an additional Fermi energization of particles trapped in contracting and relaxing magnetic islands produced by reconnection. The relative effectiveness of these mechanisms depends on plasma and magnetic field parameters of the experiments.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Condensed Matter Physics