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Acceleration of a relativistic plasma by radiation pressure

Phinney, E. S. (1982) Acceleration of a relativistic plasma by radiation pressure. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 198 (4). pp. 1109-1118. ISSN 0035-8711. doi:10.1093/mnras/198.4.1109.

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The greatly enhanced radiation pressure force felt by a relativistic plasma is accompanied by catastrophic Compton cooling and only in extreme conditions can it lead to acceleration to relativistic bulk velocities. We solve the equations of motion in the optimal case and find that the efficiency of acceleration is typically < 1 per cent (the energy lost being given to the scattered photons). The complicating effects of expansion of the plasma, finite source size and scattering above the Klein–Nishina limit are described. We end with a short list of situations in which the phenomenon may nevertheless be of importance.

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Additional Information:© 1982 Royal Astronomical Society. Provided by the NASA Astrophysics Data System. Received 1981 July 27; in original form 1981 May 18. I thank my supervisor, M. J. Rees for comments and encouragement, an anonymous referee for a wise comment, and the Marshall commission for financial support.
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Marshall CommissionUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190522-163512462
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Official Citation:E. S. Phinney, Acceleration of a relativistic plasma by radiation pressure, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 198, Issue 4, 1 April 1982, Pages 1109–1118,
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:95721
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:23 May 2019 15:07
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 17:15

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