As first proposed by Gruzinov, a charged particle moving in strong electromagnetic fields can enter an equilibrium state where the power input from the electric field is balanced by radiative losses. When this occurs, the particle moves at nearly light speed along special directions called the principal null directions (PNDs) of the electromagnetic field. This equilibrium is "Aristotelian"in that the particle velocity, rather than acceleration, is determined by the local electromagnetic field. In Paper I of this series, we analytically derived the complete formula for the particle velocity at leading order in its deviation from the PND, starting from the fundamental Landau-Lifshitz (LL) equation governing charged particle motion, and demonstrated agreement with numerical solutions of the LL equation. We also identified five necessary conditions on the field configuration for the equilibrium to occur. In this paper we study the entry into equilibrium using a similar combination of analytical and numerical techniques. We simplify the necessary conditions and provide strong numerical evidence that they are also sufficient for equilibrium to occur. Based on exact and approximate solutions to the LL equation, we identify key timescales and properties of entry into equilibrium and show quantitative agreement with numerical simulations. Part of this analysis shows analytically that the equilibrium is linearly stable and identifies the presence of oscillations during entry, which may have distinctive radiative signatures. Our results provide a solid foundation for using the Aristotelian approximation when modeling relativistic plasmas with strong electromagnetic fields.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics