skip to main content


Title: Galactic cosmic-ray scattering due to intermittent structures
ABSTRACT

Cosmic rays (CRs) with energies ≪ TeV comprise a significant component of the interstellar medium (ISM). Major uncertainties in CR behaviour on observable scales (much larger than CR gyroradii) stem from how magnetic fluctuations scatter CRs in pitch angle. Traditional first-principles models, which assume these magnetic fluctuations are weak and uniformly scatter CRs in a homogeneous ISM, struggle to reproduce basic observables such as the dependence of CR residence times and scattering rates on rigidity. We therefore explore a new category of ‘patchy’ CR scattering models, wherein CRs are pre-dominantly scattered by intermittent strong scattering structures with small volume-filling factors. These models produce the observed rigidity dependence with a simple size distribution constraint, such that larger scattering structures are rarer but can scatter a wider range of CR energies. To reproduce the empirically inferred CR scattering rates, the mean free path between scattering structures must be $\ell _{\rm mfp}\sim 10\, {\rm pc}$ at GeV energies. We derive constraints on the sizes, internal properties, mass/volume-filling factors, and the number density any such structures would need to be both physically and observationally consistent. We consider a range of candidate structures, both large scale (e.g. H ii regions) and small scale (e.g. intermittent turbulent structures, perhaps even associated with radio plasma scattering) and show that while many macroscopic candidates can be immediately ruled out as the primary CR scattering sites, many smaller structures remain viable and merit further theoretical study. We discuss future observational constraints that could test these models.

 
more » « less
NSF-PAR ID:
10490083
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume:
528
Issue:
3
ISSN:
0035-8711
Format(s):
Medium: X Size: p. 4245-4254
Size(s):
p. 4245-4254
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. ABSTRACT

    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
  2. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Cosmic rays (CRs) with ∼ GeV energies can contribute significantly to the energy and pressure budget in the interstellar, circumgalactic, and intergalactic medium (ISM, CGM, IGM). Recent cosmological simulations have begun to explore these effects, but almost all studies have been restricted to simplified models with constant CR diffusivity and/or streaming speeds. Physical models of CR propagation/scattering via extrinsic turbulence and self-excited waves predict transport coefficients which are complicated functions of local plasma properties. In a companion paper, we consider a wide range of observational constraints to identify proposed physically-motivated cosmic-ray propagation scalings which satisfy both detailed Milky Way (MW) and extra-galactic γ-ray constraints. Here, we compare the effects of these models relative to simpler “diffusion+streaming” models on galaxy and CGM properties at dwarf through MW mass scales. The physical models predict large local variations in CR diffusivity, with median diffusivity increasing with galacto-centric radii and decreasing with galaxy mass and redshift. These effects lead to a more rapid dropoff of CR energy density in the CGM (compared to simpler models), in turn producing weaker effects of CRs on galaxy star formation rates (SFRs), CGM absorption profiles and galactic outflows. The predictions of the more physical CR models tend to lie “in between” models which ignore CRs entirely and models which treat CRs with constant diffusivity. 
    more » « less
  3. ABSTRACT

    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
  4. ABSTRACT

    We explore the impact of diffusive cosmic rays (CRs) on the evolution of the interstellar medium (ISM) under varying assumptions of supernova explosion environment. In practice, we systematically vary the relative fractions of supernovae (SN) occurring in star-forming high-density gas and those occurring in random locations decoupled from star-forming gas to account for SN from run-away stars or explosions in regions that have been cleared by prior SN, stellar winds, or radiation. We find that in the simple system of a periodic stratified gas layer the ISM structure will evolve to one of two solutions: a ‘peak driving’ state where warm gas is volume filling or a ‘thermal runaway’ state where hot gas is volume filling. CR pressure and transport are important factors that strongly influence the solution state the ISM reaches and have the ability to flip the ISM between solutions. Observable signatures such as gamma-ray emission and H i gas are explored. We find that gamma-ray luminosity from pion decay is largely consistent with observations for a range of model parameters. The thickness of the H i gas layer may be too compact, however, this may be due to a large cold neutral fraction of mid-plane gas. The volume fraction of hot gas evolves to stable states in both solutions, but neither settles to a Milky Way-like configuration, suggesting that additional physics omitted here (e.g. a cosmological circumgalactic medium, radiation transport, or spectrally resolved and spatially varying CR transport) may be required.

     
    more » « less
  5. ABSTRACT

    Synchrotron emission is one of few observable tracers of galactic magnetic fields (B) and cosmic rays (CRs). Much of our understanding of B in galaxies comes from utilizing synchrotron observations in conjunction with several simplifying assumptions of equipartition models, however, it remains unclear how well these assumptions hold, and what B these estimates physically represent. Using Feedback in Realistic Environments project simulations which self-consistently evolve CR proton, electron, and positron spectra from MeV to TeV energies, we present the first synthetic synchrotron emission predictions from simulated L* galaxies with ‘live’ spectrally resolved CR-magnetohydrodynamic. We find that synchrotron emission can be dominated by relatively cool and dense gas, resulting in equipartition estimates of B with fiducial assumptions underestimating the ‘true’ B in the gas that contributes the most emission by factors of 2–3 due to small volume-filling factors. Motivated by our results, we present an analytical framework that expands upon equipartition models for estimating B in a multiphase medium. Comparing our spectrally resolved synchrotron predictions to simpler spectral assumptions used in galaxy simulations with CRs, we find that spectral evolution can be crucial for accurate synchrotron calculations towards galactic centres, where loss terms are large.

     
    more » « less