Testing Physical Models for Cosmic Ray Transport Coefficients on Galactic Scales: Self-Confinement and Extrinsic Turbulence at GeV Energies

Hopkins et al., available on arXiv

Abstract: The microphysics of ~GeV cosmic ray (CR) transport on galactic scales remain deeply uncertain, with almost all studies adopting simple prescriptions (e.g. constant-diffusivity). We explore different physically-motivated, anisotropic, dynamical CR transport scalings in high-resolution cosmological FIRE simulations of dwarf and ~L^* galaxies where scattering rates vary with local plasma properties motivated by extrinsic turbulence (ET) or self-confinement (SC) scenarios, with varying assumptions about e.g. turbulent power spectra on un-resolved scales, Alfven-wave damping, etc. We self-consistently predict observables including gamma-rays (L_gamma), grammage, residence times, and CR energy densities to constrain the models. We demonstrate many non-linear dynamical effects (not captured in simpler models) tend to enhance confinement. For example, in multi-phase media, even allowing arbitrary fast transport in neutral gas does not substantially reduce CR residence times (or L_gamma), as transport is rate-limited by the ionized WIM and ‘inner CGM’ gaseous halo (10^4-10^6 K gas within 10-30 kpc), and L_gamma can be dominated by trapping in small ‘patches.’ Most physical ET models contribute negligible scattering of ~1-10 GeV CRs, but it is crucial to account for anisotropy and damping (especially of fast modes) or else scattering rates would violate observations. We show that the most widely-assumed scalings for SC models produce excessive confinement by factors >100 in the WIM and inner CGM, where turbulent and Landau damping dominate. This suggests either a breakdown of quasi-linear theory used to derive the CR transport parameters in SC, or that other novel damping mechanisms dominate in intermediate-density ionized gas.