Magnetic field evolution in relativistic unmagnetized collisionless shocks

Uri Keshet, Boaz Katz, Anatoly Spitkovsky, Eli Waxman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


We study relativistic unmagnetized collisionless shocks using unprecedentedly large particle-in-cell simulations of two-dimensional pair plasma. High-energy particles accelerated by the shock are found to drive magnetic field evolution on a timescale ≳104 plasma times. Progressively stronger magnetic fields are generated on larger scales in a growing region around the shock. Shock-generated magnetic fields and accelerated particles carry ≳1% and ≳10% of the downstream energy flux, respectively. Our results suggest limits on the magnetization of relativistic astrophysical flows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L127-L130
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Acceleration of particles
  • Gamma rays: bursts
  • Magnetic fields
  • Shock waves


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