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  1. Abstract

    We perform particle-in-cell simulations to elucidate the microphysics of relativistic weakly magnetized shocks loaded with electron-positron pairs. Various external magnetizationsσ≲ 10−4and pair-loading factorsZ±≲ 10 are studied, whereZ±is the number of loaded electrons and positrons per ion. We find the following: (1) The shock becomes mediated by the ion Larmor gyration in the mean field whenσexceeds a critical valueσLthat decreases withZ±. AtσσLthe shock is mediated by particle scattering in the self-generated microturbulent fields, the strength and scale of which decrease withZ±, leading to lowerσL. (2) The energy fraction carried by the post-shock pairs is robustly in the range between 20% and 50% of the upstream ion energy. The mean energy per post-shock electron scales asE¯eZ±+11. (3) Pair loading suppresses nonthermal ion acceleration at magnetizations as low asσ≈ 5 × 10−6. The ions then become essentially thermal with mean energyE¯i, while electrons form a nonthermal tail, extending fromEZ±+11E¯itoE¯i. Whenσ= 0, particle acceleration is enhanced by the formation of intense magnetic cavities that populate the precursor during the late stages of shock evolution. Here,more »the maximum energy of the nonthermal ions and electrons keeps growing over the duration of the simulation. Alongside the simulations, we develop theoretical estimates consistent with the numerical results. Our findings have important implications for models of early gamma-ray burst afterglows.

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  2. ABSTRACT Electromagnetic precursor waves generated by the synchrotron maser instability at relativistic magnetized shocks have been recently invoked to explain the coherent radio emission of fast radio bursts. By means of 2D particle-in-cell simulations, we explore the properties of the precursor waves in relativistic electron–positron perpendicular shocks as a function of the pre-shock magnetization σ ≳ 1 (i.e. the ratio of incoming Poynting flux to particle energy flux) and thermal spread Δγ ≡ kT/mc2 = 10−5−10−1. We measure the fraction fξ of total incoming energy that is converted into precursor waves, as computed in the post-shock frame. At fixed magnetization, we find that fξ is nearly independent of temperature as long as Δγ ≲ 10−1.5 (with only a modest decrease of a factor of 3 from Δγ = 10−5 to Δγ = 10−1.5), but it drops by nearly two orders of magnitude for Δγ ≳ 10−1. At fixed temperature, the scaling with magnetization $f_\xi \sim 10^{-3}\, \sigma ^{-1}$ is consistent with our earlier 1D results. For our reference σ = 1, the power spectrum of precursor waves is relatively broad (fractional width ∼1 − 3) for cold temperatures, whereas it shows pronounced line-like features with fractional width ∼0.2 for 10−3 ≲ Δγ ≲ 10−1.5. For σ ≳ 1, the precursor waves aremore »beamed within an angle ≃σ−1/2 from the shock normal (as measured in the post-shock frame), as required so they can outrun the shock. Our results can provide physically grounded inputs for FRB emission models based on maser emission from relativistic shocks.« less
  3. ABSTRACT Polarimetric measurements, especially if extended at high energy, are expected to provide important insights into the mechanisms underlying the acceleration of relativistic particles in jets. In a previous work, we have shown that the polarization of the synchrotron X-ray emission produced by highly energetic electrons accelerated by a mildly relativistic shock carries essential imprints of the geometry and the structure of the magnetic fields in the downstream region. Here, we present the extension of our analysis to the non-stationary case, especially suitable to model the highly variable emission of high-energy emitting BL Lacs. We anticipate a large ($\Pi \approx 40{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$), almost time-independent degree of polarization in the hard/medium X-ray band, a prediction soon testable with the upcoming mission IXPE. The situation in other bands, in particular in the optical, is more complex. A monotonic decrease of the optical degree of polarization is observed during the development of a flare. At later stages, Π reaches zero and then it starts to increase, recovering large values at late times. The instant at which Π = 0 is marked by a rotation of the polarization angle by 90°. However, at optical frequencies, it is likely that more than one regionmore »contribute to the observed emission, potentially making it difficult to detect the predicted behaviour.« less