Electron acceleration by magnetic collapse during decoupling

Euan D S Bennet, Diver, Teodoro, Potts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


This paper identifies the non-equilibrium evolution of magnetic field structures at the onset of large-scale recombination of an inhomogeneously ionized plasma. The context for this is the Universe during the epoch of recombination. The electromagnetic treatment of this phase transition can produce energetic electrons scattered throughout the Universe, localized near the edges of magnetic domains. This is confirmed by a numerical simulation in which a magnetic domain is modelled as a uniform field region produced by a thin surrounding current sheet. Conduction currents sustaining the magnetic structure are removed as the charges comprising them combine into neutrals. The induced electric field accompanying the magnetic collapse is able to accelerate ambient stationary electrons (that is, electrons not participating in the current sheet) to energies of up to order 10keV. This is consistent with theoretical predictions. The localized electron acceleration leads to local imbalances of charge which has implications for charge separation in the early Universe.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1521–1525
Number of pages5
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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