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Title: Fast Particle Acceleration in Three-dimensional Relativistic Reconnection
Abstract Magnetic reconnection is invoked as one of the primary mechanisms to produce energetic particles. We employ large-scale 3D particle-in-cell simulations of reconnection in magnetically dominated ( σ = 10) pair plasmas to study the energization physics of high-energy particles. We identify an acceleration mechanism that only operates in 3D. For weak guide fields, 3D plasmoids/flux ropes extend along the z -direction of the electric current for a length comparable to their cross-sectional radius. Unlike in 2D simulations, where particles are buried in plasmoids, in 3D we find that a fraction of particles with γ ≳ 3 σ can escape from plasmoids by moving along z , and so they can experience the large-scale fields in the upstream region. These “free” particles preferentially move in z along Speiser-like orbits sampling both sides of the layer and are accelerated linearly in time—their Lorentz factor scales as γ ∝ t , in contrast to γ ∝ t in 2D. The energy gain rate approaches ∼ eE rec c , where E rec ≃ 0.1 B 0 is the reconnection electric field and B 0 the upstream magnetic field. The spectrum of free particles is hard, dN free / d γ ∝ γ − 1.5 , contains ∼20% of the dissipated magnetic energy independently of domain size, and extends up to a cutoff energy scaling linearly with box size. Our results demonstrate that relativistic reconnection in GRB and AGN jets may be a promising mechanism for generating ultra-high-energy cosmic rays.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1816136 1903412
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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