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Type: Journal article
Title: Fossil AGN jets as ultrahigh-energy particle accelerators
Author: Benford, G.
Protheroe, R.
Citation: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2008; 383(2):663-672
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Issue Date: 2008
ISSN: 0035-8711
Statement of
Gregory Benford, R. J. Protheroe
Abstract: Remnants of active galactic nucleus (AGN) jets and their surrounding cocoons leave colossal magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) fossil structures storing total energies 1060 erg. The original AGN may be dead but the fossil will retain its stable configuration resembling the reversed-field pinch (RFP) encountered in laboratory MHD experiments. In an RFP the longitudinal magnetic field changes direction at a critical distance from the axis, leading to magnetic reconnection there, and to slow decay of the large-scale RFP field. We show that this field decay induces large-scale electric fields which can accelerate cosmic rays with an E−2 power law up to ultrahigh energies with a cut-off depending on the fossil parameters. The cut-off is expected to be rigidity dependent, implying the observed composition would change from light to heavy close to the cut-off if one or two nearby AGN fossils dominate. Given that several per cent of the Universe's volume may house such slowly decaying structures, these fossils may even re-energize ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays from distant/old sources, offsetting the ‘GZK-losses’ due to interactions with photons of the cosmic microwave background radiation and giving evidence of otherwise undetectable fossils. In this case the composition would remain light to the highest energies if distant sources or fossils dominated, but otherwise would be mixed. It is hoped the new generation of cosmic ray experiments such as the Pierre Auger Observatory and ultrahigh-energy neutrino telescopes such as ANITA and lunar Cherenkov experiments will clarify this.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2007.12565.x
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Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest 6
Chemistry and Physics publications

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