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The Accelerating Universe

Colloquium: Astronomy Colloquia | September 19 | 4:10 p.m. | 2 LeConte Hall

Roger Blandford, Stanford

Department of Astronomy

From keV electrons in terrestrial aurorae to Ultra High Energy Cosmic Rays in unidentified "Zevatrons", the cosmos has a strongly plutocratic tendency to concentrate energy in a tiny minority of suprathermal particles. The mechanisms involved can be traced back to the ideas of Faraday, Alfvén and Fermi and, although the details are idiosyncratic to the many sites that we have observed and studied, much can be learned from comparing and contrasting particle acceleration in these locations as well as computationally and experimentally. It will be argued that new mechanisms are required to account for recent observations of galactic nuclei, pulsar wind nebulae and gamma ray bursts and some possibilities will be discussed., 510-642-5275