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Astron. Astrophys. 350, 705-718 (1999)

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Cosmic ray acceleration and nonlinear relativistic wavefronts

Guy Pelletier  *

Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de l'Observatoire de Grenoble, France (guy.pelletier@obs-ujf-grenoble.fr)

Received 29 March 1999 / Accepted 16 June 1999


The usual Fermi processes are not efficient enough to account for the high energy cosmic ray acceleration in AGNs, Jet hot spots, GRBs, and in other compact object environments. It is proposed to accelerate particles by large perturbations in the relativistic plasmas of compact object environments where the Alfvén velocity is close to the velocity of light. Relativistic wavefronts are far more efficient in the acceleration of particles; however, the theory of acceleration requires some new developments. In this paper, the essential points of the acceleration theory, as well as the main points of the theory of nonlinear relativistic wavefronts, are sketched. One important aspect of the physics of those nonlinear fronts is the large scale inertial effect produced by the cosmic rays, which makes the waves significantly dispersive.

Key words: acceleration of particles – Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) – relativity – galaxies: active – gamma rays: bursts – stars: pulsars: general

* Institut Universitaire de France

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1999

Online publication: October 4, 1999