Edison P. Liang - Rice University

Edison P. Liang
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Edison P. Liang
Rice University
United States

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High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (17)
Astrophysics (14)
Physics - Plasma Physics (6)
Physics - Accelerator Physics (2)
Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (1)
Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics (1)
Physics - Medical Physics (1)
Physics - Instrumentation and Detectors (1)
High Energy Physics - Experiment (1)

Publications Authored By Edison P. Liang

We compare Particle-in-Cell simulation results of relativistic electron-ion shear flows with different bulk Lorentz factors, and discuss their implications for spine-sheath models of blazar versus gamma-ray burst (GRB) jets. Specifically, we find that most properties of the shear boundary layer scale with the bulk Lorentz factor: the lower the Lorentz factor, the thinner the boundary layer, and the weaker the self-generated fields. Similarly, the energized electron spectrum peaks at an energy near the ion drift energy, which increases with bulk Lorentz factor, and the beaming of the accelerated electrons gets narrower with increasing Lorentz factor. Read More

We present Particle-in-Cell simulation results of relativistic shear boundary layers between electron-ion and electron-positron plasmas and discuss their potential applications to astrophysics. Specifically, we find in the case of a fast electron-positron spine surrounded by a slow-moving or stationary electron-ion sheath, lepton acceleration proceeds in a highly anisotropic manner due to electromagnetic fields created at the shear interface. While the highest-energy leptons still produce a beaming pattern (as seen in the quasi-stationary frame of the sheath) of order 1/{\Gamma}, where {\Gamma} is the bulk Lorentz factor of the spine, for lower-energy particles, the beaming is much less pronounced. Read More

We carried out two-dimensional high-resolution simulations to study the effect of dust feedback on the evolution of vortices induced by massive planets in protoplanetary disks. Various initial dust to gas disk surface density ratios ($0.001$ -- $0. Read More

We propose a new way of generating magnetized supersonic jets using a ring laser to irradiate a flat surface target. Using 2D FLASH code simulations which include the Biermann Battery term, we demonstrate that strong toroidal fields can be generated and sustained downstream in the collimated jet outflow far from the target surface. The field strength can be controlled by varying the ring laser separation, thereby providing a versatile laboratory platform for studying the effects of magnetic field in a variety of astrophysical settings. Read More

In a series of experiments at the Texas Petawatt Laser (TPW) in Austin, TX, we have used attenuation spectrometers, dosimeters, and a new Forward Compton Electron Spectrometer (FCES) to measure and characterize the angular distribution, fluence, and energy spectrum of the X-rays and gamma rays produced by the TPW striking multi-millimeter thick gold targets. Our results represent the first such measurements at laser intensities > 10 21 W*cm-2 and pulse durations < 150 fs. We obtain a maximum yield of X-ray and gamma ray energy with respect to laser energy of 4% and a mean yield of 2%. Read More

We present Particle-in-Cell simulation results of relativistic shear flows for hybrid positron-electron-ion plasmas and compare to those for pure e+e- and pure e-ion plasmas. Among the three types of relativistic shear flows, we find that only hybrid shear flow is able to energize the electrons to form a high-energy spectral peak plus a hard power-law tail. Such electron spectra are needed to model the observational properties of gamma-ray bursts. Read More

Supersonic plasma outflows driven by multi-beam, high-energy lasers, such as Omega and NIF, have been and will be used as platforms for a variety of laboratory astrophysics experiments. Here we propose a new way of launching high density and high velocity, plasma jets using multiple intense laser beams in a hollow ring formation. We show that such jets provide a more flexible and versatile platform for future laboratory astrophysics experiments. Read More

[abridged] We present results of modeling the SED and multiwavelength variability of the bright FSRQ PKS1510-089 with our time-dependent multizone Monte Carlo/Fokker-Planck code (Chen et al. 2001). As primary source of seed photons for inverse Compton scattering, we consider radiation from the broad line region (BLR), from the molecular torus, and the local synchrotron radiation (SSC). Read More

We present data for relativistic hot electron production by the Texas Petawatt Laser irradiating solid Au targets with thickness between 1 and 4 mm. The experiment was performed at the short focus target chamber TC1 in July 2011, with laser energies around 50 J. We measured hot electron spectra out to 50 MeV which show a narrow peak around 10 - 20 MeV plus high energy exponential tail. Read More

Monoenergetic ion bunch generation and acceleration from double layer thin foil target irradiated by intense linearly polarized (LP) laser pulse is investigated using two-dimensional (2D) particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations. The low-Z ions in the front layer of the target are accelerated by the laser-driven hot electrons and penetrate through the high-Z ion layer to generate a quasi-monoenergetic ion bunch, and this bunch will continue to be accelerated by the quasi-stable electrostatic sheath field which is formed by the immobile high-Z ions and the hot electrons. This mechanism offers possibility to generate monoenergetic ion bunch without ultrahigh-contrast and ultrahigh gradient laser pulses in beam generation experiments, which is confirmed by our simulations. Read More

Using 2.5-dimensional Particle-in-Cell simulations, we study the kinetic physics of relativistic shear flow boundary in collisionless electron-positron (e+e-) plasmas. We find efficient magnetic field generation and particle energization at the shear boundary, driven by streaming instabilities across the shear interface and sustained by the shear flow. Read More

We report simulation results of pair production by ultra-intense lasers irradiating a gold target using the GEANT4 Monte-Carlo code. Certain experimental features of the positron and electron energy spectra are reproduced, as well as trends with regard to target thickness and hot electron temperature Te. For Te in the range 5-10 MeV, the optimal target thickness for pair production is found to be about 3 mm. Read More

Spectral fits to M87 core data from radio to hard x-ray are generated via a specially selected software suite, comprised of the HARM GRMHD accretion disk model and a 2D Monte Carlo radiation transport code. By determining appropriate parameter changes necessary to fit x-ray quiescent and flaring behavior of M87's core, we assess the reasonableness of various flaring mechanisms. This shows that an accretion disk model of M87's core out to 28 GM/c^2 can describe the inner emissions. Read More

(abridged) We present a new time-dependent multi-zone radiative transfer code and its application to study the SSC emission of Mrk 421. The code couples Fokker-Planck and Monte Carlo methods, in a 2D geometry. For the first time all the light travel time effects (LCTE) are fully considered, along with a proper treatment of Compton cooling, which depends on them. Read More

We use Monte Carlo/Fokker-Planck simulations to study the X-ray time lags. Our results show that soft lags will be observed as long as the decay of the flare is dominated by radiative cooling, even when acceleration and cooling timescales are similar. Hard lags can be produced in presence of a competitive achromatic particle energy loss mechanism if the acceleration process operates on a timescale such that particles are slowly moved towards higher energy while the flare evolves. Read More

We present results of models of the physical space and parameters of the accretion disk of Sagittarius A*, as well as simulations of its emergent spectrum. This begins with HARM, a 2D general relativistic magneto-hydrodynamic (GRMHD) model, specifically set up to evolve the space around a black hole. Data from HARM are then fed into a 2D Monte-Carlo (MC) code which generates and tracks emitted photons, allowing for absorption and scattering before they escape the volume. Read More

Both analytical and numerical works show that magnetic reconnection must occur in hot accretion flows. This process will effectively heat and accelerate electrons. In this paper we use the numerical hybrid simulation of magnetic reconnection plus test-electron method to investigate the electron acceleration and heating due to magnetic reconnection in hot accretion flows. Read More

We present results of simulations of the spectrum of the accretion flow onto the supermassive black hole in our Galactic Centre, Sagittarius A*, generated with a coupling of Monte-Carlo (MC) radiation and general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic (GRMHD) codes. In our modeling, we use the 2D HARM GRMHD code to first model the physical parameters of the disk, then feed its results into our 2D MC photon transport code. We will discuss results obtained which fit radio, IR, and Chandra-obtained flaring or quiescent x-ray data points, as well as the validity of the amount of scaling of input parameters (density, temperature, and magnetic field) required to fit these points. Read More

We derive analytic formulas for the radiation power output when electrons are accelerated by a relativistic comoving kinetic Poynting flux, and validate these analytic results with Particle-In-Cell simulations. We also derive analytically the critical frequency of the radiation spectrum. Potential astrophysical applications of these results are discussed. Read More

We present results from 2.5-dimensional Particle-in-Cell simulations of the interaction of nonlinear Alfven waves with thin current sheets in relativistic plasmas. We find that the Alfven waves cause the current sheet to bend and kink and increase its dissipation. Read More

We use electromagnetic Particle-in-Cell codes to investigate the two-stream instability and Weibel instability when two beams of plasma collide head-on relativistically. We compare the dissipation of kinetic energies in the two cases. We also study the evolution of the resultant electron energy distribution function produced by such dissipation. Read More

We derive analytic formulas for the power output and critical frequency of radiation by electrons accelerated by relativistic kinetic Poynting flux, and validate these results with Particle-In-Cell plasma simulations. We find that the in-situ radiation power output and critical frequency are much below those predicted by the classical synchrotron formulae. We discuss potential astrophysical applications of these results. Read More

We review recent PIC simulation results which show that double-sided irradiation of a thin over-dense plasma slab with ultra-intense laser pulses from both sides can lead to sustained comoving Poynting flux acceleration of electrons to energies much higher than the conventional ponderomotive limit. The result is a robust power-law electron momentum spectrum similar to astrophysical sources. We discuss future ultra-intense laser experiments that may be used to simulate astrophysical particle acceleration. Read More

We report the Compton scattering emission from the Poynting flux acceleration of electron- positron plasma simulated by the 2-1/2 dimensional particle-in-cell(PIC) code. We show these and other remarkable properties of Poynting flux acceleration and Compton spectral output, and discuss the agreement with the observed spectra of GRBs and XRFs. Read More

We review recent PIC simulation results which show that double-sided irradiation of a thin over- dense plasma slab by ultra-intense laser pulses from both sides can lead to sustained comoving acceleration of surface electrons to energies much higher than the conventional ponderomotive limit. The acceleration stops only when the electrons drift transversely out of the laser beam. We show latest 2. Read More

We review recent developments in particle acceleration by Poynting flux using plasma kinetic simulations, and discuss their potential applications to gamma-ray burst phenomenology Read More

Particle-in-cell (PIC) simulation results of sustained acceleration of electron-positron (e+e-) plasmas by comoving electromagnetic (EM) pulses are presented. When a thin slab of overdense e+e- plasma is irradiated with linear-polarized ultra-intense short laser pulses from both sides, the pulses are transmitted when the plasma is compressed to thinner than ~ 2 relativistic skin depths. A fraction of the plasma is then captured and efficiently accelerated by self-induced JxB forces. Read More

We estimate the luminosity evolution and formation rate for over 900 GRBs by using redshift and luminosity data calculated by Band, Norris, $&$ Bonnell (2004) via the lag-luminosity correlation. By applying maximum likelihood techniques, we are able to infer the true distribution of the parent GRB population's luminosity function and density distributions in a way that accounts for detector selection effects. We find that after accounting for data truncation, there still exists a significant correlation between the average luminosity and redshift, indicating that distant GRBs are on average more luminous than nearby counterparts. Read More

Plasma outflows from gamma-ray bursts (GRB), pulsar winds, relativistic jets, and ultra-intense laser targets radiate high energy photons. However, radiation damping is ignored in conventional PIC simulations. In this letter, we study the radiation damping effect on particle acceleration via Poynting fluxes in two-and-half-dimensional particle-in-cell (PIC) plasma simulation of electron-positron plasmas. Read More

Affiliations: 1Rice University, Houston, TX, 2Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM
Category: Astrophysics

The diverse and complex light curves of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) remain an outstanding astrophysical mystery. Here we report the results of 2-1/2-dimensional particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations of the relativistic expansion of magnetized electron-positron plasmas. When the simulation is carried to >150 light-crossing time of the initial plasma, the plasma pulse reproduces many of the GRB features. Read More

Two-and-a-half-dimensional particle-in-cell plasma simulations are used to study the particle energization in expanding magnetized electron-positron plasmas with slab geometry. When the magnetized relativistic plasma with high temperature (initial electron and positron temperature are $k_{B}T_{e}=k_{B}T_{p}=5MeV$) is expanding into a vacuum, the electromagnetic (EM) pulse with large amplitude is formed and the surface plasma particles are efficiently accelerated in the forward direction owing to the energy conversion from the EM field to the plasma particles. We find that the behavior of the DRPA (Diamagnetic Relativistic Pulse Accelerator) depends strongly on the ratio of the electron plasma frequency to the cyclotron frequency $\omega_{pe}/\Omega_{e}$ and the initial plasma thickness. Read More

Charge separation effects in the expansion of magnetized relativistic electron-ion plasmas into a vacuum are examined using 2-1/2-dimensional particle-in-cell plasma simulations. The electrostatic field at the plasma surface decelerates electrons and accelerates ions. A fraction of the surface electrons are trapped and accelerated by the pondermotive force of the propagating electromagnetic pulse, a mechanism we call the DRPA (diamagnetic relativistic pulse accelerator). Read More

We analyze the time profiles of individual gamma-ray burst (GRB) pulses, that are longer than 2 s, by modelling them with analytical functions that are based empirical descriptions of GRB spectral evolution. These analytical profiles are independent of the emission mechanism and can be used to model both the rise and decay profiles Using this method, we have studied a sample of 77 individual GRB pulses, allowing us to examine the fluence, pulse width, asymmetry, and rise and decay power-law distributions. We find that the rise phase is best modelled with a power law of average index $r = 1. Read More

Using a 2-1/2-dimensional particle-in-cell (PIC) code to simulate the relativistic expansion of a magnetized collisionless plasma into a vacuum, we report a new mechanism in which the magnetic energy is efficiently converted into the directed kinetic energy of a small fraction of surface particles. We study this mechanism for both electron-positron and electron-ion (mi/me=100, me is the electron rest mass) plasmas. For the electron-positron case the pairs can be accelerated to ultra-relativistic energies. Read More

We consider stochastic particle acceleration in plasmas around stellar mass black holes to explain the emissions above 1 MeV from Galactic black hole candidates. We show that for certain parameter regimes, electrons can overcome Coulomb losses and be accelerated beyond the thermal distribution to form a new population, whose distribution is broad and usually not a power law; the peak energy of the distribution is determined by the balance between acceleration and cooling, with particles piling up around it. Radiation by inverse Compton scattering off the thermal (from background) and non-thermal (produced by acceleration) particles can in principle explain the hard X-ray to gamma-ray emissions from black hole candidates. Read More

We study quantitatively the formation and radiation acceleration of electron-positron pair plasmoids produced by photon-photon collisions near Galactic black holes (GBHs). The terminal ejecta velocity is found to be completely determined by the total disk luminosity, proton loading factor and disk size, with no dependence on the initial velocity. We discuss potential applications to the recently discovered Galactic superluminal sources GRS1915, GROJ1655 and possibly other GBHs. Read More