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    An issue of considerable interest in the theory of jet formation by the Blandford–Znajek mechanism, is how plasma is being supplied to the magnetosphere to maintain force-free conditions. Injection of electron–positron pairs via annihilation of MeV photons, emitted from a hot accretion flow, has been shown to be a viable possibility, but requires high enough accretion rates. At low accretion rates, and in the absence of any other form of plasma supply, the magnetosphere becomes charge-starved, forming intermittent spark gaps that can induce intense pair-cascades via interactions with disc radiation, enabling outflow formation. It is often speculated that enough plasma can penetrate the inner magnetosphere from the accretion flow through some rearrangement of magnetic field lines preventing the formation of spark-gaps. To address this question, we conducted a suite of 2D axisymmetric general-relativistic particle-in-cell simulations, in which plasma is injected into specified regions at a predescribed rate. We find that when pair-production is switched off, nearly complete screening is achieved when plasma is injected at the entire region inside the outer light cylinder at a high enough rate. Injection outside this region results in either, the formation of large vacuum-gaps, or coherent, large-amplitude oscillations of the magnetosphere, depending on the injection rate. Within our allowed dynamical range, we see no evidence for the system to reach a steady-state at high injection rates. Switching on pair-production results in nearly complete screening of the entire magnetosphere in all cases, with a small fraction of the Blandford–Znajek power dissipated as TeV gamma-rays.

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  2. We summarize recent attempts to unravel the role of plasma kinetic effects in radiation mediated shocks. Such shocks form in all strong stellar explosions and are responsible for the early electromagnetic emission released from these events. A key issue that has been overlooked in all previous works is the nature of the coupling between the charged leptons, that mediate the radiation force, and the ions, which are the dominant carriers of the shock energy. Our preliminary investigation indicates that in the case of relativistic shocks, as well as Newtonian shocks in multi-ion plasma, this coupling is driven by either, transverse magnetic fields of a sufficiently magnetized upstream medium, or plasma microturbulence if strong enough magnetic fields are absent. We discuss the implications for the shock breakout signal, as well as abundance evolution and kilonova emission in binary neutron star mergers. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024