Particle acceleration with anomalous pitch angle scattering in 2D magnetohydrodynamic reconnection simulations
1 School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, St Andrews KY16 9SS, UK
2 School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK
Received: 17 May 2017
Accepted: 13 July 2017
The conversion of magnetic energy into other forms (such as plasma heating, bulk plasma flows, and non-thermal particles) during solar flares is one of the outstanding open problems in solar physics. It is generally accepted that magnetic reconnection plays a crucial role in these conversion processes. In order to achieve the rapid energy release required in solar flares, an anomalous resistivity, which is orders of magnitude higher than the Spitzer resistivity, is often used in magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulations of reconnection in the corona. The origin of Spitzer resistivity is based on Coulomb scattering, which becomes negligible at the high energies achieved by accelerated particles. As a result, simulations of particle acceleration in reconnection events are often performed in the absence of any interaction between accelerated particles and any background plasma. This need not be the case for scattering associated with anomalous resistivity caused by turbulence within solar flares, as the higher resistivity implies an elevated scattering rate. We present results of test particle calculations, with and without pitch angle scattering, subject to fields derived from MHD simulations of two-dimensional (2D) X-point reconnection. Scattering rates proportional to the ratio of the anomalous resistivity to the local Spitzer resistivity, as well as at fixed values, are considered. Pitch angle scattering, which is independent of the anomalous resistivity, causes higher maximum energies in comparison to those obtained without scattering. Scattering rates which are dependent on the local anomalous resistivity tend to produce fewer highly energised particles due to weaker scattering in the separatrices, even though scattering in the current sheet may be stronger when compared to resistivity-independent scattering. Strong scattering also causes an increase in the number of particles exiting the computational box in the reconnection outflow region, as opposed to along the separatrices as is the case in the absence of scattering.
Key words: Sun: flares / Sun: X-rays, gamma rays / magnetic reconnection / scattering / turbulence / magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
© ESO, 2017
Open Access article, published by EDP Sciences, under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.