The Role of Diffusive Shock Acceleration on Non-Equilibrium Ionization in Supernova Remnants

Research paper by Daniel J. Patnaude, Donald C. Ellison, Patrick Slane

Indexed on: 14 Feb '09Published on: 14 Feb '09Published in: arXiv - Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena


We present results of semi-analytic calculations which show clear evidence for changes in the non-equilibrium ionization behind a supernova remnant forward shock undergoing efficient diffusive shock acceleration (DSA). The efficient acceleration of particles (i.e., cosmic rays) lowers the shock temperature and raises the density of the shocked gas, thus altering the ionization state of the plasma in comparison to the test particle approximation where cosmic rays gain an insignificant fraction of the shock energy. The differences between the test particle and efficient acceleration cases are substantial and occur for both slow and fast temperature equilibration rates: in cases of higher acceleration efficiency, particular ion states are more populated at lower electron temperatures. We also present results which show that, in the efficient shock acceleration case, higher ionization fractions are reached noticeably closer to the shock front than in the test-particle case, clearly indicating that DSA may enhance thermal X-ray production. We attribute this to the higher postshock densities which lead to faster electron temperature equilibration and higher ionization rates. These spatial differences should be resolvable with current and future X-ray missions, and can be used as diagnostics in estimating the acceleration efficiency in cosmic-ray modified shocks.