Weibel-mediated shocks propagating into inhomogeneous electron-positron plasmas

Sara Tomita, Yutaka Ohira, Ryo Yamazaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The external forward shock emitting the gamma-ray burst (GRB) afterglow is collisionless, and it is mediated by the Weibel instability which generates the magnetic field. The GRB afterglow shows that the magnetic field in the large downstream region is much stronger than the shock-compressed preshock field. However, particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations of relativistic shocks propagating into homogeneous media show that the Weibel generated field decays near the shock front. Some GRB observations and theoretical studies suggest that the preshock medium is inhomogeneous. We perform the PIC simulation of a relativistic shock propagating into inhomogeneous plasma. It is found that the post-shock magnetic field decays slowly compared with the homogeneous case. Sound waves and entropy waves are also generated by the shock-wave interaction, and temperature anisotropy is produced by the sound wave in the downstream region. The free energy of the temperature anisotropy is large enough to explain the observed field strength. Our results show that the upstream density fluctuation has a significant effect in the downstream region of collisionless shocks even if the wavelength of the upstream inhomogeneity is much larger than the kinetic scale.

Original languageEnglish
Article number54
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Nov 20
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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