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  1. Abstract

    Blazar emission is dominated by nonthermal radiation processes that are highly variable across the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Turbulence, which can be a major source of nonthermal particle acceleration, can widely exist in the blazar emission region. The Turbulent Extreme Multi-Zone (TEMZ) model has been used to describe turbulent radiation signatures. Recent particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations have also revealed the stochastic nature of the turbulent emission region and particle acceleration therein. However, radiation signatures have not been systematically studied via first-principles-integrated simulations. In this paper, we perform combined PIC and polarized radiative transfer simulations to study synchrotron emission from magnetic turbulence in the blazar emission region. We find that the multiwavelength flux and polarization are generally characterized by stochastic patterns. Specifically, the variability timescale and average polarization degree (PD) are governed by the correlation length of the turbulence. Interestingly, magnetic turbulence can result in polarization angle swings with arbitrary amplitudes and duration, in either direction, that are not associated with changes in flux or PD. Surprisingly, these swings, which are stochastic in nature, can appear either bumpy or smooth, although large-amplitude swings (>180°) are very rare, as expected. Our radiation and polarization signatures from first-principles-integrated simulations are consistent with the TEMZmore »model, except that in the latter, there is a weak correlation, with zero lag, between flux and degree of polarization.

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  2. Abstract The acceleration and transport of energetic electrons during solar flares is one of the outstanding topics in solar physics. Recent X-ray and radio imaging and spectroscopy observations have provided diagnostics of the distribution of nonthermal electrons and suggested that, in certain flare events, electrons are primarily accelerated in the loop top and likely experience trapping and/or scattering effects. By combining the focused particle transport equation with magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulations of solar flares, we present a macroscopic particle model that naturally incorporates electron acceleration and transport. Our simulation results indicate that physical processes such as turbulent pitch-angle scattering can have important impacts on both electron acceleration in the loop top and transport in the flare loop, and their influences are highly energy-dependent. A spatial-dependent turbulent scattering with enhancement in the loop top can enable both efficient electron acceleration to high energies and transport of abundant electrons to the footpoints. We further generate spatially resolved synthetic hard X-ray (HXR) emission images and spectra, revealing both the loop-top and footpoint HXR sources. Similar to the observations, we show that the footpoint HXR sources are brighter and harder than the loop-top HXR source. We suggest that the macroscopic particle model provides new insightsmore »into understanding the connection between the observed loop-top and footpoint nonthermal emission sources by combining the particle model with dynamically evolving MHD simulations of solar flares.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  3. Abstract Particle acceleration during magnetic reconnection is a long-standing topic in space, solar, and astrophysical plasmas. Recent 3D particle-in-cell simulations of magnetic reconnection show that particles can leave flux ropes due to 3D field-line chaos, allowing particles to access additional acceleration sites, gain more energy through Fermi acceleration, and develop a power-law energy distribution. This 3D effect does not exist in traditional 2D simulations, where particles are artificially confined to magnetic islands due to their restricted motions across field lines. Full 3D simulations, however, are prohibitively expensive for most studies. Here, we attempt to reproduce 3D results in 2D simulations by introducing ad hoc pitch-angle scattering to a small fraction of the particles. We show that scattered particles are able to transport out of 2D islands and achieve more efficient Fermi acceleration, leading to a significant increase of energetic particle flux. We also study how the scattering frequency influences the nonthermal particle spectra. This study helps achieve a complete picture of particle acceleration in magnetic reconnection.
  4. Abstract The X8.2-class limb flare on 2017 September 10 is among the best studied solar flare events owing to its great similarity to the standard flare model and the broad coverage by multiple spacecraft and ground-based observations. These multiwavelength observations indicate that electron acceleration and transport are efficient in the reconnection and flare looptop regions. However, there lacks a comprehensive model for explaining and interpreting the multi-faceted observations. In this work, we model the electron acceleration and transport in the early impulsive phase of this flare. We solve the Parker transport equation that includes the primary acceleration mechanism during magnetic reconnection in the large-scale flare region modeled by MHD simulations. We find that electrons are accelerated up to several MeV and fill a large volume of the reconnection region, similar to the observations shown in microwaves. The electron spatial distribution and spectral shape in the looptop region agree well with those derived from the microwave and hard X-ray emissions before magnetic islands grow large and dominate the acceleration. Future emission modelings using the electron maps will enable direct comparison with microwave and hard X-ray observations. These results shed new light on the electron acceleration and transport in a broad regionmore »of solar flares within a data-constrained realistic flare geometry.« less
  5. Abstract A number of double coronal X-ray sources have been observed during solar flares by RHESSI, where the two sources reside at different sides of the inferred reconnection site. However, where and how these X-ray-emitting electrons are accelerated remains unclear. Here we present the first model of the double coronal hard X-ray (HXR) sources, where electrons are accelerated by a pair of termination shocks driven by bidirectional fast reconnection outflows. We model the acceleration and transport of electrons in the flare region by numerically solving the Parker transport equation using velocity and magnetic fields from the macroscopic magnetohydrodynamic simulation of a flux rope eruption. We show that electrons can be efficiently accelerated by the termination shocks and high-energy electrons mainly concentrate around the two shocks. The synthetic HXR emission images display two distinct sources extending to >100 keV below and above the reconnection region, with the upper source much fainter than the lower one. The HXR energy spectra of the two coronal sources show similar spectral slopes, consistent with the observations. Our simulation results suggest that the flare termination shock can be a promising particle acceleration mechanism in explaining the double-source nonthermal emissions in solar flares.
  6. Abstract

    The rate of magnetic reconnection is of the utmost importance in a variety of processes because it controls, for example, the rate energy is released in solar flares, the speed of the Dungey convection cycle in Earth’s magnetosphere, and the energy release rate in harmful geomagnetic substorms. It is known from numerical simulations and satellite observations that the rate is approximately 0.1 in normalized units, but despite years of effort, a full theoretical prediction has not been obtained. Here, we present a first-principles theory for the reconnection rate in non-relativistic electron-ion collisionless plasmas, and show that the same prediction explains why Sweet-Parker reconnection is considerably slower. The key consideration of this analysis is the pressure at the reconnection site (i.e., the x-line). We show that the Hall electromagnetic fields in antiparallel reconnection cause an energy void, equivalently a pressure depletion, at the x-line, so the reconnection exhaust opens out, enabling the fast rate of 0.1. If the energy can reach the x-line to replenish the pressure, the exhaust does not open out. In addition to heliospheric applications, these results are expected to impact reconnection studies in planetary magnetospheres, magnetically confined fusion devices, and astrophysical plasmas.