Series: Astronomy Unit Seminars
Abstract: It is becoming increasingly evident that many of the problems in high-energy astrophysics and in particular the origin of high-energy cosmic rays, have their root in fundamental plasma physics. The (relatively) recent revelation that measurements of magnetic fields in supernovae infer values considerably larger than what one might expect from basic MHD shock jump conditions, has caused many to re-evaluate the importance of both microphysical and macrophysical plasma behaviour in the vicinity of shocks. While basic theory, and numerical simulations play a vital role in this study, laboratory experiments using high-power lasers are also providing unique insight into the highly nonlinear behaviour of these complex systems, all of which have important implications for particle acceleration theory. I will provide a personal overview of our current understanding of high-energy particle acceleration at astrophysical shocks, highlighting the respective roles played by simulations and experiments.