Dr Mark Dieckmann, Linkoping University
Title: Asymmetric collision of plasma clouds in the presence of a quasi-parallel guiding magnetic field: Electron acceleration to ultrarelativistic speeds and magnetic field amplification to energy equipartition with the ions.
Abstract: Plasma processes close to SNR shocks result in the amplification of magnetic fields and in the acceleration of electrons, injecting them into the diffusive acceleration mechanism. The acceleration of electrons and the B field amplification by the collision of two plasma clouds, each consisting of electrons and ions, at a speed of 0.5c is investigated. A quasi-parallel guiding magnetic field, a cloud density ratio of 10 and a plasma temperature of 25 keV are considered. A quasi-planar shock forms at the front of the dense plasma cloud. It is mediated by a circularly left-hand polarized electromagnetic wave with an electric field component along the guiding magnetic field. Its propagation direction is close to that of the guiding field and orthogonal to the collision boundary. It has a low frequency and a wavelength that equals several times the ion inertial length, which would be indicative of a dispersive Alfven wave close to the ion cyclotron resonance frequency of the left-handed mode (ion whistler), provided that the frequency is appropriate. However, it moves with the super-alfvenic plasma collision speed, suggesting that it is an Alfven precursor or a nonlinear MHD wave such as a Short Large-Amplitude Magnetic Structure (SLAMS). The growth of the magnetic amplitude of this wave to values well in excess of those of the quasi-parallel guiding field and of the filamentation mode results in a quasi-perpendicular shock. The waves developing upstream of the dense cloud give rise to electron acceleration ahead of the collision boundary. Energy equipartition between the ions and the electrons is established at the shock and the electrons are accelerated to relativistic speeds.