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Astron. Astrophys. 349, 685-690 (1999)

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Electron acceleration by strong DC electric fields in extragalactic jets

Yuri E. Litvinenko

Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824-3525, USA (yuri.litvinenko@unh.edu)

Received 20 April 1999 / Accepted 13 July 1999


Electron acceleration by fast magnetic reconnection in extragalactic jets is considered. A significant three-dimensional magnetic field is assumed in the reconnecting current sheet where the particles are accelerated by the DC electric field. The character of electron orbits in the sheet is controled by the magnetic field that determines, in particular, the electron acceleration lengths [FORMULA] pc, making the synchrotron losses in the sheet negligible. The model predicts a power-law electron spectrum extending to TeV energies. With the reconnection inflow speed of order 0.1 of the Alfvén speed and the corresponding electric field of order [FORMULA] statvolt/cm, a single current sheet can provide the energy release rate [FORMULA] erg s-1. Because the electrons escape much more efficiently across the sheet rather than along it, radiation is continuous all along the jet. The maximum electron energy [FORMULA] and the acceleration time [FORMULA] s are determined by the magnetic field dynamics in the sheet.

Key words: acceleration of particles – magnetic fields – galaxies: jets – galaxies: magnetic fields

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1999

Online publication: September 2, 1999