Self-similar evolution of cosmic-ray modified shocks: The cosmic-ray spectrum

Hyesung Kang, Dongsu Ryu, T. W. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


We use kinetic simulations of diffusive shock acceleration (DSA) to study the time-dependent evolution of plane, quasi-parallel, cosmic-ray (CR) modified shocks. Thermal leakage injection of low-energy CRs and finite Alfven wave propagation and dissipation are included. Bohm diffusion as well as the diffusion with the power-law momentum dependence are modeled. As long as the acceleration timescale to relativistic energies is much shorter than the dynamical evolution timescale of the shocks, the precursor and subshock transition approach the time-Asymptotic state, which depends on the shock sonic and Alfvenic Mach numbers and the CR injection efficiency. For the diffusion models we employ, the shock precursor structure evolves in an approximately self-similar fashion, depending only on the similarity variable, x/(us t ). During this self-similar stage, the CR distribution at the subshock maintains a characteristic form as it evolves: The sum of two power laws with the slopes determined by the subshock and total compression ratios with an exponential cutoff at the highest accelerated momentum, pmax(t ). Based on the results of the DSA simulations spanning a range of Mach numbers, we suggest functional forms for the shock structure parameters, from which the aforementioned form of CR spectrum can be constructed. These analytic forms may represent approximate solutions to the DSA problem for astrophysical shocks during the self-similar evolutionary stage as well as during the steady state stage if pmax is fixed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1273-1288
Number of pages16
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 20 2009

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2009. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A.


  • Acceleration of particles
  • Cosmic rays
  • Shock waves


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