Using large-scale fully kinetic two-dimensional particle-in-cell simulations, we investigate the effects of shock rippling on electron acceleration at low-Mach-number shocks propagating in high-β plasmas, in application to merger shocks in galaxy clusters. We find that the electron-acceleration rate increases considerably when the rippling modes appear. The main acceleration mechanism is stochastic shock-drift acceleration, in which electrons are confined at the shock by pitch-angle scattering off turbulence and gain energy from the motional electric field. The presence of multiscale magnetic turbulence at the shock transition and the region immediately behind the main shock overshoot is essential for electron energization. Wide-energy non-thermal electron distributions are formed both upstream and downstream of the shock. The maximum energy of the electrons is sufficient for their injection into diffusive shock acceleration. We show for the first time that the downstream electron spectrum has a power-law form with index p ≈ 2.5, in agreement with observations.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science