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  1. Abstract

    Magnetic reconnection is ubiquitous in astrophysical systems, and in many such systems the plasma suffers from significant cooling due to synchrotron radiation. We study relativistic magnetic reconnection in the presence of strong synchrotron cooling, where the ambient magnetization,σ, is high and the magnetic compactness,B, of the system is of order unity. In this regime,e±pair production from synchrotron photons is inevitable, and this process can regulate the magnetizationσsurrounding the current sheet. We investigate this self-regulation analytically and find a self-consistent steady state for a given magnetic compactness of the system and initial magnetization. This result helps estimate the self-consistent upstream magnetization in systems where plasma density is poorly constrained, and can be useful for a variety of astrophysical systems. As illustrative examples, we apply it to study the properties of reconnecting current sheets near the supermassive black hole of M87, as well as the equatorial current sheet outside the light cylinder of the Crab pulsar.

  2. Abstract Instabilities in a neutron star can generate Alfvén waves in its magnetosphere. Propagation along the curved magnetic field lines strongly shears the wave, boosting its electric current j A . We derive an analytic expression for the evolution of the wavevector k and the growth of j A . In the strongly sheared regime, j A may exceed the maximum current j 0 that can be supported by the background e ± plasma. We investigate these charge-starved waves, first using a simplified two-fluid analytic model, then with first-principles kinetic simulations. We find that the Alfvén wave is able to propagate successfully even when κ ≡ j A / j 0 ≫ 1. It sustains j A by compressing and advecting the plasma along the magnetic field lines with an increasing Lorentz factor, γ ≳ κ 1/2 . The simulations show how plasma instabilities lead to gradual dissipation of the wave energy. Our results suggest that an extremely high charge-starvation parameter κ ≳ 10 4 may be required in order for this mechanism to power the observed fast radio bursts (FRBs) from SGR 1935+2154. However, cosmological FRBs with much higher luminosities are unlikely to be a result of charge-starvation.
  3. Abstract

    The most common form of magnetar activity is short X-ray bursts, with durations from milliseconds to seconds, and luminosities ranging from 1036–1043erg s−1. Recently, an X-ray burst from the galactic magnetar SGR 1935+2154 was detected to be coincident with two fast radio burst (FRB) like events from the same source, providing evidence that FRBs may be linked to magnetar bursts. Using fully 3D force-free electrodynamics simulations, we show that such magnetar bursts may be produced by Alfvén waves launched from localized magnetar quakes: a wave packet propagates to the outer magnetosphere, becomes nonlinear, and escapes the magnetosphere, forming an ultra-relativistic ejecta. The ejecta pushes open the magnetospheric field lines, creating current sheets behind it. Magnetic reconnection can happen at these current sheets, leading to plasma energization and X-ray emission. The angular size of the ejecta can be compact, ≲1 sr if the quake launching region is small, ≲0.01 sr at the stellar surface. We discuss implications for the FRBs and the coincident X-ray burst from SGR 1935+2154.

  4. Abstract

    Relativistic magnetized jets, such as those from AGN, GRBs, and XRBs, are susceptible to current- and pressure-driven MHD instabilities that can lead to particle acceleration and nonthermal radiation. Here, we investigate the development of these instabilities through 3D kinetic simulations of cylindrically symmetric equilibria involving toroidal magnetic fields with electron–positron pair plasma. Generalizing recent treatments by Alves et al. and Davelaar et al., we consider a range of initial structures in which the force due to toroidal magnetic field is balanced by a combination of forces due to axial magnetic field and gas pressure. We argue that the particle energy limit identified by Alves et al. is due to the finite duration of the fast magnetic dissipation phase. We find a rather minor role of electric fields parallel to the local magnetic fields in particle acceleration. In all investigated cases, a kink mode arises in the central core region with a growth timescale consistent with the predictions of linearized MHD models. In the case of a gas-pressure-balanced (Z-pinch) profile, we identify a weak local pinch mode well outside the jet core. We argue that pressure-driven modes are important for relativistic jets, in regions where sufficient gas pressure is producedmore »by other dissipation mechanisms.

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  5. Abstract We use the public code ebhlight to carry out 3D radiative general relativistic magnetohydrodynamics (GRMHD) simulations of accretion on to the supermassive black hole in M87. The simulations self-consistently evolve a frequency-dependent Monte Carlo description of the radiation field produced by the accretion flow. We explore two limits of accumulated magnetic flux at the black hole (SANE and MAD), each coupled to several subgrid prescriptions for electron heating that are motivated by models of turbulence and magnetic reconnection. We present convergence studies for the radiation field and study its properties. We find that the near-horizon photon energy density is an order of magnitude higher than is predicted by simple isotropic estimates from the observed luminosity. The radially dependent photon momentum distribution is anisotropic and can be modeled by a set of point-sources near the equatorial plane. We draw properties of the radiation and magnetic field from the simulation and feed them into an analytic model of gap acceleration to estimate the very high energy (VHE) γ-ray luminosity from the magnetized jet funnel, assuming that a gap is able to form. We find luminosities of $\rm \sim 10^{41} \, erg \, s^{-1}$ for MAD models and $\rm \sim 2\times 10^{40}more »\, erg \, s^{-1}$ for SANE models, which are comparable to measurements of M87’s VHE flares. The time-dependence seen in our calculations is insufficient to explain the flaring behaviour. Our results provide a step towards bridging theoretical models of near-horizon properties seen in black hole images with the VHE activity of M87.« less