Simulations of relativistic collisionless shocks: Shock structure and particle acceleration

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

65 Scopus citations

Abstract

We discuss 3D simulations of relativistic collisionless shocks in electron-positron pair plasmas using the particle-in-cell (PIC) method. The shock structure is mainly controlled by the shock's magnetization ("sigma" parameter). We demonstrate how the structure of the shock varies as a function of sigma for perpendicular shocks. At low magnetizations the shock is mediated mainly by the Weibel instability which generates transient magnetic fields that can exceed the initial field. At larger magnetizations the shock is dominated by magnetic reflections. We demonstrate where the transition occurs and argue that it is impossible to have very low magnetization collisionless shocks in nature (in more than one spatial dimension). We further discuss the acceleration properties of these shocks, and show that higher magnetization perpendicular shocks do not efficiently accelerate nonthermal particles in 3D. Among other astrophysical applications, this may pose a restriction on the structure and composition of gamma-ray bursts and pulsar wind outflows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAstrophysical Sources of High Energy Particles and Radiation
Pages345-350
Number of pages6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 22 2005
EventAstrophysical Sources of High Energy Particles and Radiation - Torun, Poland
Duration: Jun 20 2005Jun 24 2005

Publication series

NameAIP Conference Proceedings
Volume801
ISSN (Print)0094-243X
ISSN (Electronic)1551-7616

Other

OtherAstrophysical Sources of High Energy Particles and Radiation
CountryPoland
CityTorun
Period6/20/056/24/05

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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  • Cite this

    Spitkovsky, A. (2005). Simulations of relativistic collisionless shocks: Shock structure and particle acceleration. In Astrophysical Sources of High Energy Particles and Radiation (pp. 345-350). (AIP Conference Proceedings; Vol. 801). https://doi.org/10.1063/1.2141897