A detailed study of sheared Alfvén waves and their possible application to gamma-ray bursts

Marco Fatuzzo, Fulvio Melia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Strong particle acceleration in neutron-star environments may result in the upscattering of soft photons to gamma-ray energies. Sheared Alfvén waves, which may be generated by several plausible disturbances in the stellar crust, can energize the charges to Lorentz factors in excess of 105. However, a full understanding of the physics of these MHD waves is lacking due to the complications arising from the charge separation within the sheared region. Here, we present a detailed study of this mechanism, with particular attention to a comparison of the nonrelativistic and relativistic domains. We find that the charge separation is consistent with our previous classical MHD solutions and that it provides a natural description of the sheared current via a relativistic flow. These waves can apparently produce the particle distributions that are necessary to produce the γ-ray fluxes observed in gamma-ray bursts, regardless of whether the sources are Galactic or extragalactic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)680-686
Number of pages7
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 20 1993


  • Acceleration of particles
  • Gamma rays: bursts
  • MHD
  • Stars: neutron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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