Electron Injection via Modified Diffusive Shock Acceleration in High-Mach-number Collisionless Shocks

A. Grassi, H. G. Rinderknecht, G. F. Swadling, D. P. Higginson, H. S. Park, A. Spitkovsky, F. Fiuza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The ability of collisionless shocks to efficiently accelerate nonthermal electrons via diffusive shock acceleration (DSA) is thought to require an injection mechanism capable of preaccelerating electrons to high enough energy where they can start crossing the shock front potential. We propose, and show via fully kinetic plasma simulations, that in high-Mach-number shocks electrons can be effectively injected by scattering in kinetic-scale magnetic turbulence produced near the shock transition by the ion Weibel, or current filamentation, instability. We describe this process as a modified DSA mechanism where initially thermal electrons experience the flow velocity gradient in the shock transition and are accelerated via a first-order Fermi process as they scatter back and forth. The electron energization rate, diffusion coefficient, and acceleration time obtained in the model are consistent with particle-in-cell simulations and with the results of recent laboratory experiments where nonthermal electron acceleration was observed. This injection model represents a natural extension of DSA and could account for electron injection in high-Mach-number astrophysical shocks, such as those associated with young supernova remnants and accretion shocks in galaxy clusters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL32
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Volume958
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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