New Publication: “Role of the overshoot in the shock self-organization” by Michael Gedalin et al.

A collisionless shock is a self-organized structure where fields and particle distributions are mutually adjusted to ensure a stable mass, momentum and energy transfer from the upstream to the downstream region. This adjustment may involve rippling, reformation or whatever else is needed to maintain the shock. The fields inside the shock front are produced due to the motion of charged particles, which is in turn governed by the fields. The overshoot arises due to the deceleration of the ion flow by the increasing magnetic field, so that the drop of the dynamic pressure should be compensated by the increase of the magnetic pressure. The role of the overshoot is to regulate ion reflection, thus properly adjusting the downstream ion temperature and kinetic pressure and also speeding up the collisionless relaxation and reducing the anisotropy of the eventually gyrotropized distributions.

The magnetic field magnitude, normalized to the upstream magnetic field magnitude (black curve) and the reduced ion distribution function.

Full Article:
Gedalin, M. (SHARP), Dimmock, A. (SHARP), Russell, C. (SHARP), Pogorelov, N., & Roytershteyn, V. (2023). Role of the overshoot in the shock self-organization. Journal of Plasma Physics, 89(2), doi: 10.1017/S0022377823000090

License: CC BY 4.0

New Publication: “X-Ray Polarimetry Reveals the Magnetic-field Topology on Sub-parsec Scales in Tycho’s Supernova Remnant” by Riccardo Ferrazzoli et al.

Supernova remnants are commonly considered to produce most of the Galactic cosmic rays via diffusive shock acceleration. However, many questions regarding the physical conditions at shock fronts, such as the magnetic-field morphology close to the particle acceleration sites, remain open. Here we report the detection of a localized polarization signal from some synchrotron X-ray emitting regions of Tycho’s supernova remnant made by the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer. The derived degree of polarization of the X-ray synchrotron emission is 9% ± 2% averaged over the whole remnant, and 12% ± 2% at the rim, higher than the value of polarization of 7%–8% observed in the radio band. In the west region, the degree of polarization is 23% ± 4%. The degree of X-ray polarization in Tycho is higher than for Cassiopeia A, suggesting a more ordered magnetic field or a larger maximum turbulence scale. The measured tangential direction of polarization corresponds to the radial magnetic field, and is consistent with that observed in the radio band. These results are compatible with the expectation of turbulence produced by an anisotropic cascade of a radial magnetic field near the shock, where we derive a magnetic-field amplification factor of 3.4 ± 0.3. The fact that this value is significantly smaller than those expected from acceleration models is indicative of highly anisotropic magnetic-field turbulence, or that the emitting electrons either favor regions of lower turbulence, or accumulate close to where the orientation of the magnetic field is preferentially radially oriented due to hydrodynamical instabilities.

Polarization map in the 3–6 keV energy band with a 60” pixel size. Only the pixels with significance higher than 1σ are shown. The blue bars represent the direction of the polarization (that is, the direction of the electric vector polarization angle) and their length is proportional to the degree of polarization. The thicker cyan bars mark the pixels with significance higher than 2σ. The orientation of the magnetic field is perpendicular to the direction of the polarization. Superimposed in green are the 4–6 keV Chandra contours.

Full Article:
Ferrazzoli, R., Slane, P., Prokhorov, D. (SHARP), Zhou, P., Vink, J. (SHARP), et al. (2023). X-Ray Polarimetry Reveals the Magnetic-field Topology on Sub-parsec Scales in Tycho’s Supernova Remnant. The Astrophysical Journal, 945, doi: 10.3847/1538-4357/acb496

License: CC BY 4.0

New Publication: “Shock Heating of Incident Thermal and Superthermal Populations of Different Ion Species” by Michael Gedalin et al.

Using ion tracing in a model shock front we study heating of thermal (Maxwellian) and superthermal (Vasyliunas–Siscoe) populations of protons, singly charged helium, and alpha particles. It is found that heating of thermal and superthermal populations is different, mainly because of substantially higher ion reflection in the superthermal populations. Accordingly, the temperature increase of initially superthermal populations is substantially higher than that of the thermal ions. Heating per mass decreases with the increase of the mass-to-charge ratio because of the reduced effect of the cross-shock potential and, accordingly, weaker ion reflection. The findings are supported by two-dimensional hybrid simulations.

The upstream (left panel) and downstream (right panel) distribution of the initially VS distributed α particles (AV). The distributions are shown on a log scale.

Full Article:
Gedalin, M. (SHARP), Roytershteyn, V., Pogorelov, N. V. (2023). Shock Heating of Incident Thermal and Superthermal Populations of Different Ion Species. The Astrophysical Journal, 945, doi: 10.3847/1538-4357/acb13a

License: CC BY 4.0

Collisionless shock meeting

As part of the SHARP project, the Swedish Institute for Space Physics (IRF) organised a Collisionless shock meeting on January 26-27th in Uppsala, Sweden. The meeting consisted of sessions on interplanetary shocks, astrophysical shocks, foreshock/sheath plasma regions and planetary bow shocks. The program is available here.

New Publication: “Electron Heating Scales in Collisionless Shocks Measured by MMS” by Andreas Johlander at al.

Electron heating at collisionless shocks in space is a combination of adiabatic heating due to large-scale electric and magnetic fields and non-adiabatic scattering by high-frequency fluctuations. The scales at which heating happens hints to what physical processes are taking place. In this letter, we study electron heating scales with data from the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft at Earth’s quasi-perpendicular bow shock. We utilize the tight tetrahedron formation and high-resolution plasma measurements of MMS to directly measure the electron temperature gradient. From this, we reconstruct the electron temperature profile inside the shock ramp and find that the electron temperature increase takes place on ion or sub-ion scales. Further, we use Liouville mapping to investigate the electron distributions through the ramp to estimate the deHoffmann-Teller potential and electric field. We find that electron heating is highly non-adiabatic at the high-Mach number shocks studied here.

Electron temperature profiles for the three shock crossing events. The x-axes show the profile along urn:x-wiley:00948276:media:grl65419:grl65419-math-0015 which means that upstream is at higher values regardless of which direction the spacecraft crossed the shock. Units are km on the bottom and di,u on the top. The shortest distance where half the temperature increase takes place is marked in gray.

Full Article:
Johlander, A. (SHARP), Khotyaintsev, Y. V. (SHARP), Dimmock, A. P. (SHARP), Graham, D. B. (SHARP), & Lalti, A. (SHARP) (2023). Electron heating scales in collisionless shocks measured by MMS. Geophysical Research Letters, 50, doi: 10.1029/2022GL100400

License: CC BY 4.0

SHARP Working meeting

SHARP Working meeting on the future synthesis of heliospheric and astrophysical shocks with participation of colleagues from SERPENTINE project was held on December 1st, 2022.

New Publication: “An update on Fermi-LAT transients in the Galactic plane, including strong activity of Cygnus X-3 in mid-2020” by Dmitry Prokhorov et al.

We present a search for Galactic transient γ-ray sources using 13 yr of the Fermi Large Area Telescope data. The search is based on a recently developed variable-size sliding-time-window (VSSTW) analysis and aimed at studying variable γ-ray emission from binary systems, including novae, γ-ray binaries, and microquasars. Compared to the previous search for transient sources at random positions in the sky with 11.5 yr of data, we included γ-rays with energies down to 500 MeV, increased a number of test positions, and extended the data set by adding data collected between 2020 February and 2021 July. These refinements allowed us to detect additional three novae, V1324 Sco, V5855 Sgr, V357 Mus, and one γ-ray binary, PSR B1259-63, with the VSSTW method. Our search revealed a γ-ray flare from the microquasar, Cygnus X-3, occurred in 2020. When applied to equal quarters of the data, the analysis provided us with detections of repeating signals from PSR B1259-63, LS I +61°303, PSR J2021+4026, and Cygnus X-3. While the Cygnus X-3 was bright in γ-rays in mid-2020, it was in a soft X-ray state and we found that its γ-ray emission was modulated with the orbital period.

The significance map of γ-ray transient emission in σ showing the microquasar Cygnus X-3, the nova V407 Cyg, and the pulsar PSR J2021+4026.

Full Article:
Prokhorov, D. A. (SHARP), Moraghan, A. (2022). An update on Fermi-LAT transients in the Galactic plane, including strong activity of Cygnus X-3 in mid-2020. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 519, doi: 10.1093/mnras/stac3453

License: CC BY 4.0