skip to main content

Title: Standard self-confinement and extrinsic turbulence models for cosmic ray transport are fundamentally incompatible with observations

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.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
2009234 2108318 1911233 1713353
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Medium: X Size: p. 5413-5448
["p. 5413-5448"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. 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

    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
  3. Abstract

    While it is well known that cosmic rays (CRs) can gain energy from turbulence via second-order Fermi acceleration, how this energy transfer affects the turbulent cascade remains largely unexplored. Here, we show that damping and steepening of the compressive turbulent power spectrum are expected once the damping timetdampρv2/ĖCRECR1becomes 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 atĖCRϵ˜, whereϵ˜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 ofE≳ 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 realisticECREgscenarios, 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.,ϵ˜ρv3/L.

    more » « less
  4. null (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT We present a comprehensive study about the phenomenological implications of the theory describing Galactic cosmic ray scattering on to magnetosonic and Alfvénic fluctuations in the GeV−PeV domain. We compute a set of diffusion coefficients from first principles, for different values of the Alfvénic Mach number and other relevant parameters associated with both the Galactic halo and the extended disc, taking into account the different damping mechanisms of turbulent fluctuations acting in these environments. We confirm that the scattering rate associated with Alfvénic turbulence is highly suppressed if the anisotropy of the cascade is taken into account. On the other hand, we highlight that magnetosonic modes play a dominant role in Galactic confinement of cosmic rays up to PeV energies. We implement the diffusion coefficients in the numerical framework of the dragon code, and simulate the equilibrium spectrum of different primary and secondary cosmic ray species. We show that, for reasonable choices of the parameters under consideration, all primary and secondary fluxes at high energy (above a rigidity of $\simeq 200 \, \mathrm{GV}$) are correctly reproduced within our framework, in both normalization and slope. 
    more » « less

    Cosmic rays (CRs) may drive outflows and alter the phase structure of the circumgalactic medium, with potentially important implications on galaxy formation. However, these effects ultimately depend on the dominant mode of transport of CRs within and around galaxies, which remains highly uncertain. To explore potential observable constraints on CR transport, we investigate a set of cosmological fire-2 CR-magnetohydrodynamic simulations of L* galaxies which evolve CRs with transport models motivated by self-confinement (SC) and extrinsic turbulence (ET) paradigms. To first order, the synchrotron properties diverge between SC and ET models due to a CR physics-driven hysteresis. SC models show a higher tendency to undergo ‘ejective’ feedback events due to a runaway buildup of CR pressure in dense gas due to the behaviour of SC transport scalings at extremal CR energy densities. The corresponding CR wind-driven hysteresis results in brighter, smoother, and more extended synchrotron emission in SC runs relative to ET and constant diffusion runs. The differences in synchrotron arise from different morphology, interstellar medium gas, and B properties, potentially ruling out SC as the dominant mode of CR transport in typical star-forming L* galaxies, and indicating the prospect for non-thermal radio continuum observations to constrain CR transport physics.

    more » « less