Electron Acceleration in One-dimensional Nonrelativistic Quasi-perpendicular Collisionless Shocks

Rui Xu, Anatoly Spitkovsky, Damiano Caprioli

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46 Scopus citations


We study diffusive shock acceleration (DSA) of electrons in nonrelativistic quasi-perpendicular shocks using self-consistent one-dimensional particle-in-cell simulations. By exploring the parameter space of sonic and Alfvénic Mach numbers we find that high Mach number quasi-perpendicular shocks can efficiently accelerate electrons to power-law downstream spectra with slopes consistent with DSA prediction. Electrons are reflected by magnetic mirroring at the shock and drive nonresonant waves in the upstream. Reflected electrons are trapped between the shock front and upstream waves, and undergo multiple cycles of shock-drift acceleration before the injection into DSA. Strong current-driven waves also temporarily change the shock obliquity and cause mild proton pre-acceleration even in quasi-perpendicular shocks, which otherwise do not accelerate protons. These results can be used to understand nonthermal emission in supernova remnants and intracluster medium in galaxy clusters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL41
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 10 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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