Phenomenological models of cosmic ray (CR) transport in the Milky Way can reproduce a wide range of observations assuming that CRs scatter off of magnetic-field fluctuations with spectrum ∝ k−δ and δ ∼ [1.4, 1.67]. We study the extent to which such models can be reconciled with current microphysical theories of CR transport, specifically self-confinement due to the streaming instability and/or extrinsic turbulence due to a cascade of magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) fast modes. We first review why it is that on their own neither theory is compatible with observations. We then highlight that CR transport is a strong function of local plasma conditions in the multiphase interstellar medium, and may be diffusive due to turbulence in some regions and streaming due to self-confinement in others. A multiphase combination of scattering mechanisms can in principle reproduce the main trends in the proton spectrum and the boron-to-carbon ratio. However, models with a combination of scattering by self-excited waves and fast-mode turbulence require significant fine-tuning due to fast-mode damping, unlike phenomenological models that assume undamped Kolmogorov turbulence. The assumption that fast modes follow a weak cascade is also not well justified theoretically, as the weak cascade is suppressed by wave steepening and weak-shock dissipation even in subsonic turbulence. These issues suggest that there may be a significant theoretical gap in our understanding of MHD turbulence. We discuss a few topics at the frontier of MHD turbulence theory that bear on this (possible) gap and that may be relevant for CR scattering.more » « less
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- Oxford University Press
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- p. 657-674
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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null (Ed.)ABSTRACT The microphysics of ∼ GeV cosmic ray (CR) transport on galactic scales remain deeply uncertain, with almost all studies adopting simple prescriptions (e.g. constant diffusivity). We explore different physically motivated, anisotropic, dynamical CR transport scalings in high-resolution cosmological Feedback In Realistic Environment (FIRE) simulations of dwarf and ∼L* galaxies where scattering rates vary with local plasma properties motivated by extrinsic turbulence (ET) or self-confinement (SC) scenarios, with varying assumptions about e.g. turbulent power spectra on un-resolved scales, Alfvén-wave damping, etc. We self-consistently predict observables including γ-rays (Lγ), grammage, residence times, and CR energy densities to constrain the models. We demonstrate many non-linear dynamical effects (not captured in simpler models) tend to enhance confinement. For example, in multiphase media, even allowing arbitrary fast transport in neutral gas does not substantially reduce CR residence times (or Lγ), as transport is rate-limited by the ionized WIM and ‘inner CGM’ gaseous halo (104–106 K gas within $\lesssim 10\!-\!30\,$ kpc), and Lγ can be dominated by trapping in small ‘patches’. Most physical ET models contribute negligible scattering of ∼1–10 GeV CRs, but it is crucial to account for anisotropy and damping (especially of fast modes) or else scattering rates would violate observations. We show that the most widely assumed scalings for SC models produce excessive confinement by factors ≳100 in the warm ionized medium (WIM) and inner CGM, where turbulent and Landau damping dominate. This suggests either a breakdown of quasi-linear theory used to derive the CR transport parameters in SC, or that other novel damping mechanisms dominate in intermediate-density ionized gas.more » « less
Subsonic, compressive turbulence transfers energy to cosmic rays (CRs), a process known as nonresonant reacceleration. It is often invoked to explain the observed ratios of primary to secondary CRs at ∼GeV energies, assuming wholly diffusive CR transport. However, such estimates ignore the impact of CR self-confinement and streaming. We study these issues in stirring box magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulations using Athena++, with field-aligned diffusive and streaming CR transport. For diffusion only, we find CR reacceleration rates in good agreement with analytic predictions. When streaming is included, reacceleration rates depend on plasma
β. Due to streaming-modified phase shifts between CR and gas variables, they are slower than canonical reacceleration rates in low- βenvironments like the interstellar medium but remain unchanged in high- βenvironments like the intracluster medium. We also quantify the streaming energy-loss rate in our simulations. For sub-Alfvénic turbulence, it is resolution dependent (hence unconverged in large-scale simulations) and heavily suppressed compared to the isotropic loss rate vA· ∇ PCR/ PCR∼ vA/ L0, due to misalignment between the mean field and isotropic CR gradients. Unlike acceleration efficiencies, CR losses are almost independent of magnetic field strength over β∼ 1–100 and are, therefore, not the primary factor behind lower acceleration rates when streaming is included. While this paper is primarily concerned with how turbulence affects CRs, in a follow-up paper we consider how CRs affect turbulence by diverting energy from the MHD cascade, altering the pathway to gas heating and steepening the turbulent spectrum.
Models for cosmic ray (CR) dynamics fundamentally depend on the rate of CR scattering from magnetic fluctuations. In the ISM, for CRs with energies ∼MeV-TeV, these fluctuations are usually attributed either to ‘extrinsic turbulence’ (ET) – a cascade from larger scales – or ‘self-confinement’ (SC) – self-generated fluctuations from CR streaming. Using simple analytic arguments and detailed ‘live’ numerical CR transport calculations in galaxy simulations, we show that both of these, in standard form, cannot explain even basic qualitative features of observed CR spectra. For ET, any spectrum that obeys critical balance or features realistic anisotropy, or any spectrum that accounts for finite damping below the dissipation scale, predicts qualitatively incorrect spectral shapes and scalings of B/C and other species. Even if somehow one ignored both anisotropy and damping, observationally required scattering rates disagree with ET predictions by orders of magnitude. For SC, the dependence of driving on CR energy density means that it is nearly impossible to recover observed CR spectral shapes and scalings, and again there is an orders-of-magnitude normalization problem. But more severely, SC solutions with super-Alfvénic streaming are unstable. In live simulations, they revert to either arbitrarily rapid CR escape with zero secondary production, or to bottleneck solutions with far-too-strong CR confinement and secondary production. Resolving these fundamental issues without discarding basic plasma processes requires invoking different drivers for scattering fluctuations. These must act on a broad range of scales with a power spectrum obeying several specific (but plausible) constraints.
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becomes comparable to the turbulent cascade time. Magnetohydrodynamic simulations of stirred compressive turbulence in a gas-CR fluid with diffusive CR transport show clear imprints of CR-induced damping, saturating at , where is the turbulent energy input rate. In that case, almost all of the energy in large-scale motions is absorbed by CRs and does not cascade down to grid scale. Through a Hodge–Helmholtz decomposition, we confirm that purely compressive forcing can generate significant solenoidal motions, and we find preferential CR damping of the compressive component in simulations with diffusion and streaming, rendering small-scale turbulence largely solenoidal, with implications for thermal instability and proposed resonant scattering of E≳ 300 GeV CRs by fast modes. When CR transport is streaming dominated, CRs also damp large-scale motions, with kinetic energy reduced by up to 1 order of magnitude in realistic ECR∼ Egscenarios, but turbulence (with a reduced amplitude) still cascades down to small scales with the same power spectrum. Such large-scale damping implies that turbulent velocities obtained from the observed velocity dispersion may significantly underestimate turbulent forcing rates, i.e., .
The nature of cosmic ray (CR) transport in the Milky Way remains elusive. The predictions of current microphysical CR transport models in magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) turbulence are drastically different from what is observed. These models usually focus on MHD turbulence with a strong guide field and ignore the impact of turbulent intermittency on particle propagation. This motivates our studying the alternative regime of large-amplitude turbulence with δB/B0 ≫ 1, in which intermittent small-scale magnetic field reversals are ubiquitous. We study particle transport in such turbulence by integrating trajectories in stationary snapshots. To quantify spatial diffusion, we use a set-up with continuous particle injection and escape, which we term the turbulent leaky box. We find that particle transport is very different from the strong guide-field case. Low-energy particles are better confined than high-energy particles, despite less efficient pitch-angle isotropization at small energies. In the limit of weak guide field, energy-dependent confinement is driven by the energy-dependent (in)ability to follow reversing magnetic field lines exactly and by the scattering in regions of ‘resonant curvature’, where the field line bends on a scale that is of the order of the local particle gyro-radius. We derive a heuristic model of particle transport in magnetic folds that approximately reproduces the energy dependence of transport found numerically. We speculate that CR propagation in the Galaxy is regulated by the intermittent field reversals highlighted here and discuss the implications of our findings for CR transport in the Milky Way.