Journal Article

A long-wavelength instability involving the stress tensor

K. M. Schure and A. R. Bell

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 418, issue 2, pages 782-788
Published in print December 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online November 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
A long-wavelength instability involving the stress tensor

Show Summary Details


Cosmic ray acceleration through first-order Fermi acceleration in a collisionless plasma relies on efficient scattering off magnetic field fluctuations. Scattering is most efficient for magnetic field fluctuations with wavelengths on the order of the gyroradius of the particles. In order to determine the highest energy to which cosmic rays can be accelerated, it is important to understand the growth of the magnetic field on these large scales. We derive the growth rate of the long-wavelength fluctuations in the linear regime, using the kinetic equation coupled to Maxwell’s equations for the background plasma. The instability, driven by the cosmic ray current, acts on large scales due to the stress tensor and efficient scattering on small scales, and operates for both left- and right circular polarizations. This long-wavelength instability is potentially important in determining the acceleration efficiency and maximum energy of cosmic rays around shock waves such as in supernova remnants.

Keywords: acceleration of particles; instabilities; cosmic rays; ISM: supernova remnants

Journal Article.  4776 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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