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Particle Acceleration and Magnetic Field Generation in Electron-Positron Relativistic ShocksShock acceleration is a ubiquitous phenomenon in astrophysical plasmas. Plasma waves and their associated instabilities (e.g., Buneman, Weibel, and other two-stream instabilities) created in collisionless shocks are responsible for particle (electron, positron, and ion) acceleration. Using a three-dimensional relativistic electromagnetic particle (REMP) code, we have investigated particle acceleration associated with a relativistic electron-positron jet front propagating into an ambient electron-positron plasma with and without initial magnetic fields. We find small differences in the results for no ambient and modest ambient magnetic fields. New simulations show that the Weibel instability created in the collisionless shock front accelerates jet and ambient particles both perpendicular and parallel to the jet propagation direction. Furthermore, the nonlinear fluctuation amplitudes of densities, currents, and electric and magnetic fields in the electron-positron shock are larger than those found in the electron-ion shock studied in a previous paper at a comparable simulation time. This comes from the fact that both electrons and positrons contribute to generation of the Weibel instability. In addition, we have performed simulations with different electron skin depths. We find that growth times scale inversely with the plasma frequency, and the sizes of structures created by tine Weibel instability scale proportionally to the electron skin depth. This is the expected result and indicates that the simulations have sufficient grid resolution. While some Fermi acceleration may occur at the jet front, the majority of electron and positron acceleration takes place behind the jet front and cannot be characterized as Fermi acceleration. The simulation results show that the Weibel instability is responsible for generating and amplifying nonuniform, small-scale magnetic fields, which contribute to the electron s (positron s) transverse deflection behind the jet head. This small- scale magnetic field structure is appropriate to the generation of "jitter" radiation from deflected electrons (positrons) as opposed to synchrotron radiation. The jitter radiation has different properties than synchrotron radiation calculated assuming a uniform magnetic field. The jitter radiation resulting from small-scale magnetic field structures may be important for understanding the complex time structure and spectral evolution observed in gamma-ray bursts or other astrophysical sources containing relativistic jets and relativistic collisionless shocks.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Nishikawa, K.-I.
(National Space Science and Technology Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Hardee, P.
(Alabama Univ. Tuscaloosa, AL, United States)
Richardson, G.
(Alabama Univ. Huntsville, AL, United States)
Preece, R.
(Alabama Univ. Huntsville, AL, United States)
Sol, H.
(Observatoire de Paris-Meudon France)
Fishman, G. J.
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2005
Publication Information
Publication: Astrophysical Journal
Volume: 622
Subject Category
Funding Number(s)
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