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The Astrophysical Journal


A theory of 2-stage acceleration of Galactic cosmic rays in supernova remnants is proposed. The first stage is accomplished by the supernova shock front, where a power-law spectrum is established up to a certain cutoff energy. It is followed by stochastic acceleration with compressible waves/turbulence in the downstream medium. With a broad ∝k^(-2) spectrum for the compressible plasma fluctuations, the rate of stochastic acceleration is constant over a wide range of particle momentum. In this case, the stochastic acceleration process extends the power-law spectrum cutoff energy of Galactic cosmic rays to the knee without changing the spectral slope. This situation happens as long as the rate of stochastic acceleration is faster than 1/5 of the adiabatic cooling rate. A steeper spectrum of compressible plasma fluctuations that concentrate their power in long wavelengths will accelerate cosmic rays to the knee with a small bump before its cutoff in the comic-ray energy spectrum. This theory does not require a strong amplification of the magnetic field in the upstream interstellar medium in order to accelerate cosmic rays to the knee energy.



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