Electron acceleration by wave turbulence in a magnetized plasma

A. Rigby*, F. Cruz, B. Albertazzi, R. Bamford, A. R. Bell, J. E. Cross, F. Fraschetti, P. Graham, Y. Hara, P. M. Kozlowski, Y. Kuramitsu, D. Q. Lamb, S. Lebedev, J. R. Marques, F. Miniati, T. Morita, M. Oliver, B. Reville, Y. Sakawa, S. SarkarC. Spindloe, R. Trines, P. Tzeferacos, L. O. Silva, R. Bingham, M. Koenig, G. Gregori

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
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Astrophysical shocks are commonly revealed by the non-thermal emission of energetic electrons accelerated in situ 1-3 . Strong shocks are expected to accelerate particles to very high energies 4-6 ; however, they require a source of particles with velocities fast enough to permit multiple shock crossings. While the resulting diffusive shock acceleration 4 process can account for observations, the kinetic physics regulating the continuous injection of non-thermal particles is not well understood. Indeed, this injection problem is particularly acute for electrons, which rely on high-frequency plasma fluctuations to raise them above the thermal pool 7,8 . Here we show, using laboratory laser-produced shock experiments, that, in the presence of a strong magnetic field, significant electron pre-heating is achieved. We demonstrate that the key mechanism in producing these energetic electrons is through the generation of lower-hybrid turbulence via shock-reflected ions. Our experimental results are analogous to many astrophysical systems, including the interaction of a comet with the solar wind 9, a setting where electron acceleration via lower-hybrid waves is possible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-479
Number of pages5
JournalNature Physics
Issue number5
Early online date12 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 01 May 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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