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  1. Abstract

    Low-collisionality plasma in a magnetic field generically develops anisotropy in its distribution function with respect to the magnetic field direction. Motivated by the application to radiation from accretion flows and jets, we explore the effect of temperature anisotropy on synchrotron emission. We derive analytically and provide numerical fits for the polarized synchrotron emission and absorption coefficients for a relativistic bi-Maxwellian plasma (we do not consider Faraday conversion/rotation). Temperature anisotropy can significantly change how the synchrotron emission and absorption coefficients depend on observing angle with respect to the magnetic field. The emitted linear polarization fraction does not depend strongly on anisotropy, while the emitted circular polarization does. We apply our results to black hole imaging of Sgr A* and M87* by ray tracing a GRMHD simulation and assuming that the plasma temperature anisotropy is set by the thresholds of kinetic-scale anisotropy-driven instabilities. We find that the azimuthal asymmetry of the 230 GHz images can change by up to a factor of 3, accentuating (T>T) or counteracting (T<T) the image asymmetry produced by Doppler beaming. This can change the physical inferences from observations relative to models with an isotropic distribution function, e.g., by allowing for larger inclination between the line of sight and spin direction in Sgr A*. The observed image diameter and the size of the black hole shadow can also vary significantly due to plasma temperature anisotropy. We describe how the anisotropy of the plasma can affect future multifrequency and photon ring observations. We also calculate kinetic anisotropy-driven instabilities (mirror, whistler, and firehose) for relativistically hot plasmas.

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    We use local stratified shearing-box simulations to elucidate the impact of two-temperature thermodynamics on the thermal structure of coronae in radiatively efficient accretion flows. Rather than treating the coronal plasma as an isothermal fluid, we use a simple, parametrized cooling function that models the collisional transfer of energy from the ions to the rapidly cooling leptons. Two-temperature models naturally form temperature inversions, with a hot, magnetically dominated corona surrounding a cold disc. Simulations with net vertical flux (NF) magnetic fields launch powerful magnetocentrifugal winds that would enhance accretion in a global system. The outflow rates are much better converged with increasing box height than analogous isothermal simulations, suggesting that the winds into two-temperature coronae may be sufficiently strong to evaporate a thin disc and form a radiatively inefficient accretion flow under some conditions. We find evidence for multiphase structure in the corona, with broad density and temperature distributions, and we propose criteria for the formation of a multiphase corona. The fraction of cooling in the surface layers of the disc is substantially larger for NF fields compared to zero net-flux configurations, with moderate NF simulations radiating ≳30 per cent of the flow’s total luminosity above two mid-plane scale heights. Our work shows that NF fields may efficiently power the coronae of luminous Seyfert galaxies and quasars, providing compelling motivation for future studies of the heating mechanisms available to NF fields and the interplay of radiation with two-temperature thermodynamics.

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  3. Abstract

    In 1977, Blandford and Znajek showed that the electromagnetic field surrounding a rotating black hole can harvest its spin energy and use it to power a collimated astrophysical jet, such as the one launched from the center of the elliptical galaxy M87. Today, interferometric observations with the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) are delivering high-resolution, event-horizon-scale, polarimetric images of the supermassive black hole M87* at the jet launching point. These polarimetric images offer an unprecedented window into the electromagnetic field structure around a black hole. In this paper, we show that a simple polarimetric observable—the phase ∠β2of the second azimuthal Fourier mode of the linear polarization in a near-horizon image—depends on the sign of the electromagnetic energy flux and therefore provides a direct probe of black hole energy extraction. In Boyer–Lindquist coordinates, the Poynting flux for axisymmetric electromagnetic fields is proportional to the productBϕBr. The phase ∠β2likewise depends on the ratioBϕ/Br, thereby enabling an observer to determine the direction of electromagnetic energy flow in the near-horizon environment experimentally. Data from the 2017 EHT observations of M87* are consistent with electromagnetic energy outflow. Currently envisioned multifrequency observations of M87* will achieve higher dynamic range and angular resolution, and hence deliver measurements of ∠β2closer to the event horizon as well as better constraints on Faraday rotation. Such observations will enable a definitive test for energy extraction from the black hole M87*.

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    When collapse of the iron core in a massive red or yellow supergiant does not lead to an energetic supernova, a significant fraction of the convective hydrogen envelope will fall in towards the black hole formed from the collapsing core. The random velocity field in the convective envelope results in finite specific angular momentum in each infalling shell. Using 3D hydrodynamical simulations, we follow the infall of this material to small radii, resolving the circularization radii of the flow. We show that infall of the convective envelope leads to nearly complete envelope ejection in a ≳1048 erg explosion with outflow speeds of ≳200 km s−1. The light curve of such an explosion would show a characteristic, red plateau as the ejecta cools and a hydrogen recombination front recedes through the expanding ejecta. Adopting supernova IIp scalings, the event would have a plateau luminosity of ≳1040 erg s−1 and a duration of several hundreds of days. These events would appear quite similar to luminous red novae with red or yellow supergiant progenitors; some luminous red novae may, in fact, be signposts of black hole formation. The mechanism studied here produces more energetic explosions than the weak shock generated from radiation of neutrino energy during the protoneutron star phase. Because we cannot simulate all the way to the horizon, our results are likely lower limits on the energy and luminosity of transients produced during the collapse of a red or yellow supergiant to form a black hole.

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    Gas in the central regions of cool-core clusters and other massive haloes has a short cooling time (≲1 Gyr). Theoretical models predict that this gas is susceptible to multiphase condensation, in which cold gas is expected to condense out of the hot phase if the ratio of the thermal instability growth time-scale (tti) to the free-fall time (tff) is tti/tff ≲ 10. The turbulent mixing time tmix is another important time-scale: if tmix is short enough, the fluctuations are mixed before they can cool. In this study, we perform high-resolution (5122 × 768–10242 × 1536 resolution elements) hydrodynamic simulations of turbulence in a stratified medium, including radiative cooling of the gas. We explore the parameter space of tti/tff and tti/tmix relevant to galaxy and cluster haloes. We also study the effect of the steepness of the entropy profile, the strength of turbulent forcing and the nature of turbulent forcing (natural mixture versus compressive modes) on multiphase gas condensation. We find that larger values of tti/tff or tti/tmix generally imply stability against multiphase gas condensation, whereas larger density fluctuations (e.g. due to compressible turbulence) promote multiphase gas condensation. We propose a new criterion min (tti/min (tmix, tff)) ≲ c2 × exp (c1σs) for when the halo becomes multiphase, where σs denotes the amplitude of logarithmic density fluctuations and c1 ≃ 6, c2 ≃ 1.8 from an empirical fit to our results.

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    In general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic (GRMHD) simulations, accreted magnetic flux on the black hole horizon episodically decays, during which magnetic reconnection heats up the plasma near the horizon, potentially powering high-energy flares like those observed in M87* and Sgr A*. We study the mm observational counterparts of such flaring episodes in very high resolution GRMHD simulations. The change in 230 GHz flux during the expected high energy flares depends primarily on the efficiency of accelerating γ ≳ 100 (Te ≳ 1011 K) electrons. For models in which the electrons are heated to Te ∼ 1011 K during flares, the hot plasma produced by reconnection significantly enhances 230 GHz emission and increases the size of the 230 GHz image. By contrast, for models in which the electrons are heated to higher temperatures (which we argue are better motivated), the reconnection-heated plasma is too hot to produce significant 230 GHz synchrotron emission, and the 230 GHz flux decreases during high energy flares. We do not find a significant change in the mm polarization during flares as long as the emission is Faraday thin. We also present expectations for the ring-shaped image as observed by the Event Horizon Telescope during flares, as well as multiwavelength synchrotron spectra. Our results highlight several limitations of standard post-processing prescriptions for the electron temperature in GRMHD simulations. We also discuss the implications of our results for current and future observations of flares in Sgr A*, M87*, and related systems. Appendices contain detailed convergence studies with respect to resolution and plasma magnetization.

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    We study the properties of cosmic-ray (CR) driven galactic winds from the warm interstellar medium using idealized spherically symmetric time-dependent simulations. The key ingredients in the model are radiative cooling and CR-streaming-mediated heating of the gas. Cooling and CR heating balance near the base of the wind, but this equilibrium is thermally unstable, leading to a multiphase wind with large fluctuations in density and temperature. In most of our simulations, the heating eventually overwhelms cooling, leading to a rapid increase in temperature and a thermally driven wind; the exception to this is in galaxies with the shallowest potentials, which produce nearly isothermal $T \approx 10^4\,$ K winds driven by CR pressure. Many of the time-averaged wind solutions found here have a remarkable critical point structure, with two critical points. Scaled to real galaxies, we find mass outflow rates $\dot{M}$ somewhat larger than the observed star-formation rate in low-mass galaxies, and an approximately ‘energy-like’ scaling $\dot{M} \propto v_{\rm esc}^{-2}$. The winds accelerate slowly and reach asymptotic wind speeds of only ∼0.4vesc. The total wind power is $\sim 1~{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ of the power from supernovae, suggesting inefficient preventive CR feedback for the physical conditions modelled here. We predict significant spatially extended emission and absorption lines from 104–105.5 K gas; this may correspond to extraplanar diffuse ionized gas seen in star-forming galaxies.

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    Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) are believed to provide the energy that prevents runaway cooling of gas in the cores of galaxy clusters. However, how this energy is transported and thermalized throughout the Intracluster Medium (ICM) remains unclear. In recent work, we showed that streaming cosmic rays (CRs) destabilize sound waves in dilute ICM plasmas. Here, we show that CR streaming in the presence of gravity also destabilizes a pressure-balanced wave. We term this new instability the CR buoyancy instability (CRBI). In stark contrast to standard results without CRs, the pressure-balanced mode is highly compressible at short wavelengths due to CR streaming. Maximal growth rates are of order (pc/pg)β1/2ωff, where pc/pg is the ratio of CR pressure to thermal gas pressure, β is the ratio of thermal to magnetic pressure, and ωff is the free-fall frequency. The CRBI operates alongside buoyancy instabilities driven by background heat fluxes, i.e. the heat-flux-driven buoyancy instability (HBI) and the magneto-thermal instability (MTI). When the thermal mean free path lmfp is ≪ the gas scale height H, the HBI/MTI set the growth rate on large scales, while the CRBI sets the growth rate on small scales. Conversely, when lmfp ∼ H and (pc/pg)β1/2 ≳ 1, CRBI growth rates exceed HBI/MTI growth rates even on large scales. Our results suggest that CR-driven instabilities may be partially responsible for the sound waves/weak shocks and turbulence observed in galaxy clusters. CR-driven instabilities generated near radio bubbles may also play an important role redistributing AGN energy throughout clusters.

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    The nature of cosmic ray (CR) transport in the Milky Way remains elusive. The predictions of current microphysical CR transport models in magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) turbulence are drastically different from what is observed. These models usually focus on MHD turbulence with a strong guide field and ignore the impact of turbulent intermittency on particle propagation. This motivates our studying the alternative regime of large-amplitude turbulence with δB/B0 ≫ 1, in which intermittent small-scale magnetic field reversals are ubiquitous. We study particle transport in such turbulence by integrating trajectories in stationary snapshots. To quantify spatial diffusion, we use a set-up with continuous particle injection and escape, which we term the turbulent leaky box. We find that particle transport is very different from the strong guide-field case. Low-energy particles are better confined than high-energy particles, despite less efficient pitch-angle isotropization at small energies. In the limit of weak guide field, energy-dependent confinement is driven by the energy-dependent (in)ability to follow reversing magnetic field lines exactly and by the scattering in regions of ‘resonant curvature’, where the field line bends on a scale that is of the order of the local particle gyro-radius. We derive a heuristic model of particle transport in magnetic folds that approximately reproduces the energy dependence of transport found numerically. We speculate that CR propagation in the Galaxy is regulated by the intermittent field reversals highlighted here and discuss the implications of our findings for CR transport in the Milky Way.

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  10. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 23, 2024