A cosmic ray current-driven instability in partially ionised media
Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik, Heidelberg 69029, Germany e-mail: email@example.com
2 UCD School of Mathematical Science, Belfield, Dublin 4, Germany
Accepted: 18 September 2007
Context.We investigate the growth of hydromagnetic waves driven by streaming cosmic rays in the precursor environment of a supernova remnant shock.
Aims.It is known that transverse waves propagating parallel to the mean magnetic field are unstable to anisotropies in the cosmic ray distribution, and may provide a mechanism to substantially amplify the ambient magnetic field. We quantify the extent to which temperature and ionisation fractions modify this picture.
Methods.Using a kinetic description of the plasma we derive the dispersion relation for a collisionless thermal plasma with a streaming cosmic ray current. Fluid equations are then used to discuss the effects of neutral-ion collisions.
Results.We calculate the extent to which the environment into which the cosmic rays propagate influences the growth of the magnetic field, and determines the range of possible growth rates.
Conclusions. If the cosmic ray acceleration is efficient, we find that very large neutral fractions are required to stabilise the growth of the non-resonant mode. For typical supernova parameters in our Galaxy, thermal effects do not significantly alter the growth rates. For weakly driven modes, ion-neutral damping can dominate over the instability at more modest ionisation fractions. In the case of a supernova shock interacting with a molecular clouds, such as in RX J1713.7-3946, with high density and low ionisation, the modes can be rapidly damped.
Key words: plasmas / instabilities / ISM: cosmic rays / ISM: supernova remnants / magnetic fields
© ESO, 2007