Diffusive shock re-acceleration

Damiano Caprioli, Horace Zhang, Anatoly Spitkovsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


We have performed two-dimensional hybrid simulations of non-relativistic collisionless shocks in the presence of pre-existing energetic particles ('seeds'); such a study applies, for instance, to the re-acceleration of galactic cosmic rays (CRs) in supernova remnant (SNR) shocks and solar wind energetic particles in heliospheric shocks. Energetic particles can be effectively reflected and accelerated regardless of shock inclination via a process that we call diffusive shock re-acceleration. We find that re-accelerated seeds can drive the streaming instability in the shock upstream and produce effective magnetic field amplification. This can eventually trigger the injection of thermal protons even at oblique shocks that ordinarily cannot inject thermal particles. We characterize the current in reflected seeds, finding that it tends to a universal value J ∼ enCRvsh, where enCR is the seed charge density and vsh is the shock velocity. When applying our results to SNRs, we find that the re-acceleration of galactic CRs can excite the Bell instability to nonlinear levels in less than ∼10 yr, thereby providing a minimum level of magnetic field amplification for any SNR shock. Finally, we discuss the relevance of diffusive shock re-acceleration also for other environments, such as heliospheric shocks, galactic superbubbles and clusters of galaxies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number715840301
JournalJournal of Plasma Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics


  • Astrophysical plasmas
  • Plasma nonlinear phenomena
  • Plasma simulation


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