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Galaxies 2016, 4(3), 28; doi:10.3390/galaxies4030028

Applying Relativistic Reconnection to Blazar Jets

Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center, Polish Academy of Sciences, Bartycka 18, Warsaw 00-716, Poland
Academic Editors: Jose L. Gómez, Alan P. Marscher and Svetlana G. Jorstad
Received: 15 July 2016 / Revised: 2 September 2016 / Accepted: 3 September 2016 / Published: 8 September 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Blazars through Sharp Multi-wavelength Eyes)
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Abstract

Rapid and luminous flares of non-thermal radiation observed in blazars require an efficient mechanism of energy dissipation and particle acceleration in relativistic active galactic nuclei (AGN) jets. Particle acceleration in relativistic magnetic reconnection is being actively studied by kinetic numerical simulations. Relativistic reconnection produces hard power-law electron energy distributions N ( γ ) γ p exp ( γ / γ max ) with index p 1 and exponential cut-off Lorentz factor γ max σ in the limit of magnetization σ = B 2 / ( 4 π w ) 1 (where w is the relativistic enthalpy density). Reconnection in electron-proton plasma can additionally boost γ max by the mass ratio m p / m e . Hence, in order to accelerate particles to γ max 10 6 in the case of BL Lacs, reconnection should proceed in plasma of very high magnetization σ max 10 3 . On the other hand, moderate mean jet magnetization values are required for magnetic bulk acceleration of relativistic jets, σ mean Γ j 20 (where Γ j is the jet bulk Lorentz factor). I propose that the systematic dependence of γ max on blazar luminosity class—the blazar sequence—may result from a systematic trend in σ max due to homogeneous loading of leptons by pair creation regulated by the energy density of high-energy external radiation fields. At the same time, relativistic AGN jets should be highly inhomogeneous due to filamentary loading of protons, which should determine the value of σ mean roughly independently of the blazar class. View Full-Text
Keywords: blazars; relativistic jets; magnetic reconnection blazars; relativistic jets; magnetic reconnection
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Nalewajko, K. Applying Relativistic Reconnection to Blazar Jets. Galaxies 2016, 4, 28.

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