Chapter

Microphysics of Cosmic Plasmas

Volume 47 of the series Space Sciences Series of ISSI pp 383-405

Topics in Microphysics of Relativistic Plasmas

  • Maxim LyutikovAffiliated withDepartment of Physics, Purdue UniversityINAF, Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri LargoThe Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, University of Toronto Email author 
  • , A. LazarianAffiliated withDepartment of Astronomy, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Abstract

Astrophysical plasmas can have parameters vastly different from the more studied laboratory and space plasmas. In particular, the magnetic fields can be the dominant component of the plasma, with energy-density exceeding the particle rest-mass energy density. Magnetic fields then determine the plasma dynamical evolution, energy dissipation and acceleration of non-thermal particles. Recent data coming from astrophysical high energy missions, like magnetar bursts and Crab nebula flares, point to the importance of magnetic reconnection in these objects.

In this review we outline a broad spectrum of problems related to the astrophysical relevant processes in magnetically dominated relativistic plasmas. We discuss the problems of large scale dynamics of relativistic plasmas, relativistic reconnection and particle acceleration at reconnecting layers, turbulent cascade in force-fee plasmas. A number of astrophysical applications are also discussed.

Keywords

Plasma astrophysics High energy astrophysics