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Evolution of magnetic fields in supernova remnants

By K.M. Schure, J. Vink, A. Achterberg and R. Keppens


Supernova remnants (SNR) are now widely believed to be a source of cosmic rays (CRs) up to an energy of 10(15) eV. The magnetic fields required to accelerate CRs to sufficiently high energies need to be much higher than can result from compression of the circumstellar medium (CSM) by a factor 4, as is the case in strong shocks. Non-thermal synchrotron maps of these regions indicate that indeed the magnetic field is much stronger, and for young SNRs has a dominant radial component while for old SNRs it is mainly toroidal. How these magnetic fields get enhanced, or why the field orientation is mainly radial for young remnants, is not yet fully understood. We use an adaptive mesh refinement MHD code, AMRVAC, to simulate the evolution of supernova remnants and to see if we can reproduce a mainly radial magnetic field in early stages of evolution. We follow the evolution of the SNR with three different configurations of the initial magnetic field in the CSM: an initially mainly toroidal field, a turbulent magnetic field, and a field parallel to the symmetry axis. Although for the latter two topologies a significant radial field component arises at the contact discontinuity due to the Rayleigh-Taylor instability, no radial component can be seen out to the forward shock. Ideal MHD appears not sufficient to explain observations. Possibly a higher compression ratio and additional turbulence due to dominant presence of CRs can help us to better reproduce the observations in future studies

Year: 2009
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