Effect of binary collisions on electron acceleration in magnetic reconnection

C. A. Burge, A. L. MacKinnon, P. Petkaki
2014 Astronomy and Astrophysics  
Context. The presence of energetic X-ray sources in the solar corona indicates there are additional transport effects in the acceleration region. A prime method of investigation is to add collisions into models of particle behaviour at the reconnection region. Aims. We investigate electron test particle acceleration in a simple model of an X-type reconnection region. In particular, we explore the possibility that collisions will cause electrons to re-enter the acceleration more frequently, in
more » ... re frequently, in turn causing particles to be accelerated to high energies. Methods. The deterministic (Lorentz) description of particle gyration and acceleration has been coupled to a model for the effects of collisions. The resulting equations are solved numerically using Honeycutt's extension of the RK4 method to stochastic differential equations. This approach ensures a correct description of collisional energy loss and pitch-angle scattering combined with a sufficiently precise description of gyro-motion and acceleration. Results. Even with initially mono-energetic electrons, the competition between collisions and acceleration results in a distribution of electron energies. When realistic model parameters are used, electrons achieve X-ray energies. A possible model for coronal hard X-ray sources is indicated. Conclusions. Even in competition with energy losses, pitch-angle scattering results in a small proportion of electrons reaching higher energies than they would in a collisionless situation.
doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201322199 fatcat:ty4znl7cardkfij4jpluvyj7rq