Particle Acceleration

Our universe is inhabited by energetic sources that emit a substantial portion of their luminosity as highly relativistic electrons and ions ("cosmic rays") and associated non-thermal emissions, which span the electromagnetic spectrum from radio waves to the highest energy gamma-rays and (in the case of hadronic acceleration) can include high-energy neutrinos.  

We are interested in understanding the key physical processes - shocks, magnetic reconnection, and turbulence - by which ordered large-scale energy is channeled and partitioned into relativistic particle energy.  Astrophysical sources of interest include the relativistic outflows from compact objects (e.g., pulsar winds; accretion-powered jets from X-ray binaries, AGN, and gamma-ray bursts), neutron star magnetospheres, accretion disk coronae, and shock waves in novae, supernovae and neutron star mergers.   Our primary tools include large-scale first-principles plasma simulations which make use of the particle-in-cell method, as developed and employed by THEA members (Beloborodov, Sironi).