Electron acceleration during three-dimensional relaxation of an electron beam-return current plasma system in a magnetic field
1 Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, 25165 Ondřejov, Czech Republic
2 SUPA, School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Glasgow, G12 8QQ, UK
Received: 12 April 2012
Accepted: 10 July 2012
Aims. We investigate the effects of acceleration during non-linear electron-beam relaxation in magnetized plasma in the case of electron transport in solar flares.
Methods. The evolution of electron distribution functions is computed using a three-dimensional particle-in-cell electromagnetic code. Analytical estimations under simplified assumptions are made to provide comparisons.
Results. We show that, during the non-linear evolution of the beam-plasma system, the accelerated electron population appears. We found that, although the electron beam loses its energy efficiently to the thermal plasma, a noticeable part of the electron population is accelerated. For model cases with initially monoenergetic beams in uniform plasma, we found that the amount of energy in the accelerated electrons above the injected beam-electron energy varies depending the plasma conditions and could be around 10–30% of the initial beam energy.
Conclusions. This type of acceleration could be important for the interpretation of non-thermal electron populations in solar flares. Its neglect could lead to the over-estimation of accelerated electron numbers. The results emphasize that collective plasma effects should not be treated simply as an additional energy-loss mechanism, when hard X-ray emission in solar flares is interpreted, notably in the case of RHESSI data.
Key words: Sun: flares / Sun: particle emission / Sun: X-rays, gamma rays
© ESO, 2012