Kinetic Simulations of Cosmic-Ray-Modified Shocks I: Hydrodynamics (2020)

by | Sep 10, 2020 | shocks

C. C. Haggerty and D. Caprioli

Abstract: Collisionless plasma shocks are efficient sources of non-thermal particle acceleration in space and astrophysical systems. We use hybrid (kinetic ions – fluid electrons) simulations to examine the nonlinear feedback of the self-generated energetic particles (cosmic rays, CRs) on the shock hydrodynamics. When CR acceleration is efficient, we find evidence of both an upstream precursor, where the inflowing plasma is compressed and heated, and a downstream postcursor, where the energy flux in CRs and amplified magnetic fields play a dynamical role. For the first time, we assess how non-linear magnetic fluctuations in the postcursor preferentially travel away from the shock at roughly the local Alfvén speed with respect to the downstream plasma. The drift of both magnetic and CR energy with respect to the thermal plasma substantially increases the shock compression ratio with respect to the standard prediction, in particular exceeding 4 for strong shocks. Such modifications also have implications for the spectrum of the particles accelerated via diffusive shock acceleration, a significant result detailed in a companion paper, Caprioli et al. (2020).

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