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Set 9:

Bremsstrahlung
Coulomb Field
.

• Bremsstrahlung e-
can be viewed
as Thomson scattering
ion
of an electron with
the virtual photons in the lab frame

e-
Coulomb field of the ion
x’=vt’
• For relativistic
y’=b
electrons, Coulomb
field is essentially Lorentz ion
contracted and also
rest (primed) frame
transformed into nearly
equal transverse B field
Coulomb Field
• To a moving electron, the Coulomb field of an ion is Lorentz
transformed from a spherically symmetric field to a pulse
resembling a radiation field
• From the general formula for the Lorentz transformation of the
field Coulomb E field and B = 0

Ek0 = Ek Bk0 = 0
E⊥0 = γE⊥ 0
B⊥ = −γβ × E
Coulomb Field
• Given an electron moving in the x direction it will see a field of the
form
0 0
0 qx qγ(x − vt ) 0
Ex = 3 = 3
, B x = 0
r r
0 0
qγy qγy qγβz
Ey0 = 3 = 3 , By0 = − 3
r r r
0 0
qγz qγz qγβy
Ez0 = 3 = 3 , Bz0 =
r r r3
2 2 0 0 2 02 02
r = γ (x − vt ) + y + z
• Take the electron to be at x0 = 0, z 0 = 0 and y 0 = b then the fields
are
0 qγ 0
E = 2 2 02 2 3/2
(−vt , b, 0)
(γ v t + b )
B0 = (0, 0, βEy0 )
Rest Frame Radiation
• Take an ion of charge q = −Ze, the acceleration of the electron in
the rest frame
0 2 0
eE Ze vγt
a0k = − x =
m m(γ 2 v 2 t0 2 + b2 )3/2
0 2
0
eE y Ze γb
a⊥ = − =−
m m(γ 2 v 2 t0 2 + b2 )3/2
• Power is radiated via the Larmor formula and frequency content
comes from the Fourier moments
2 02
0 2e a
P =
3c3
dW 0 8πe2 0 0 2
0
= 3
|a (ω )|
dω 3c
Rest Frame Radiation
• Frequency spectrum
Z ∞
1
a(ω) = a(t)eiωt dt
2π −∞
Z ∞ 2
0 0 1 0
iω t 0 0 Ze γb
a⊥ (ω ) = − e dt
2π −∞ m(γ 2 v 0 2 t0 2 + b2 )3/2
2
Z ∞ ixy

1 Ze γb b 1 e
=− 3 2 3/2
dx [x = γvt/b]
2π m γv b −∞ (x + 1)
1 Ze2
=− [2yK1 (y)] [y = ω 0 b/γv]
2πm bv
2
0 0 1 Ze 1
ak (ω ) = − [2iyK0 (y)]
2πm bv γ
Bremsstrahlung
• The modified Bessel functions K0 K1 have a characteristic high
frequency cut off for y  1 or ω 0  γv/b with
r
πy −y
lim yK1 (y) = 1 lim yK1 (y) = e
y→0 y→∞ 2
r
πy −y
lim yK0 (y) = 0 lim yK0 (y) = e
y→0 y→∞ 2
• More power comes out in the ⊥ term especially for γ  1, thus
since dW/dω is a Lorentz invariant
0 2
 2 4
dW dW 8πe 1 Z e 2 2
= 0
≈ 3 2 2 2 2
4y K1 (y)
dω dω 3c 4π m bv
8e6 Z 2 2 2 0
= 2 3 2 2
y K 1 (y) [ω = γω ]
3πm c b v
Virtual Quanta
• Bremsstrahlung can be viewed as Thomson scattering of virtual
particles: the Coulomb field looks like a pulse of radiation
quantified by its electric field:

dW 0 2 cm 2
0 2
0
= c|E(ω)| = 2
|a ⊥ (ω )|
dAdω virtual e

cm2 1 Ze2
= 2 { [2yK1 (y)]}2
e 2πm bv
Z 2 e2 c
= 2 2 2 [yK1 (y)]2
π bv
0 0
 2 2 2 2
dW dW 8π e Z ec 2
= σT = [yK1 (y)]
dω 0 rad dAdω 0 virtual 3 mc2 π 2 b2 v 2

dW 8 e6 Z 2 2
= [yK 1 (y)]
dω rad 3π m2 c3 b2 v 2
Non-Relativistic Bremsstrahlung
• For non-relativistic velocities γ = 1 and ω 0 ≈ ω
• yK1 (y) can be approximated by a step function at y = 1 or
ω = v/b
(
dW 8 e6 Z 2 1 ω < v/b,
= 2 3 2 2
×
dω 3π m c b v 0 ω > v/b.
• Spectrum is flat out to a cut off frequency. The interaction takes
place over a temporal extent ∆t which defines the range of
frequencies → for low ω looks like a δ function

b v
v∆t = b → ∆t = → ωmax ≈
v b
Non-Relativistic Bremsstrahlung
• The amplitude is related to the change in velocity through the
dipole formula
Z
¨ 2 e
d = ev̇ →F T −ω d(ω) = v̇eiωt dt

e
≈ ∆v ω < v/b, eiωt ∼ 1

dW 8π e2
= 3 2 ∆v 2
dω 3c 4π
• The total change in velocity can be found by integrating the
acceleration
Z Z 2 2 Z
Ze b Ze dx
∆v = a⊥ dt = − dt 2 2 2 3/2
=−
m(v t + b ) mbv (1 + x)3/2
2Ze2
=− [x = vt/b]
mbv
Non-Relativistic Bremsstrahlung
• The flat energy distribution for ω < v/b then becomes as before

dW 8 e6 Z 2
=
dω 3π m2 c3 b2 v 2
• To get the total bremsstrahlung emission given an ion density ni
and electron density ne , consider that
h i h i dN
e
ne v = electron flux × 2πbdb = d(area) =
Z dt
dW dW
= (electron flux) d(area) (ion density)
dωdV dt dω
Z bmax
8 e6 Z 2
= ne ni 2πv 2 3 2 2
bdb
bmin 3π m c b v
16 e6 Z 2 bmax
= 2 3
ne ni ln
3 mcv bmin
Gaunt Factor
• The dependence on maximum and minimum scale is logarithmic
and so only a crude specification is needed
• The maximum impact parameter is set by the condition of ωmax
v v
ω< →b<
b ω
• The minimum impact parameter comes from two sources:
violation of the Born approximation that the acceleration is
evaluated on the unperturbed path

Ze2
∆v ∼ =v
mbv
Ze2
b∼
mv 2
Gaunt Factor
• Or a violation of the uncertainty principle

h
∆x∆q > h̄ → bmv > h̄ → b >
 2 mv
Ze h
bmin = max 2
,
mv mv
• These factors are collected in to a Gaunt factor
dW 16πe6 Z 2
= √ ne ni gff (v, ω)
dωdV dt 3
3 3c m v 2
√  
3 bmax
gff (v, ω) = ln
π bmin
in practice gff is calibrated and tabulated
Thermal Bremsstrahlung
• Integrate over thermal distribution of electron velocities
Z 3 Z
dq 2 −mv 2 /2kT
ne = 3
fe ∝ v e dv
(2πh̄)
require that the kinetic energy be sufficient to emit a photon
1 2
2
mv > hν → vmin to get any radiation
• Qualitative: replace v with thermal velocity ∼ (kT /m)1/2
R ∞ dW 2 −mv2 /2kT
dW vmin dνdV dt
v e dv
→ R∞
2 e−mv 2 /2kT dv
dνdV dt 0
v
5 2 6
 1/2
2 πZ e 2πm −hν/kT
= 2 3
n e n i e ḡff
3m c 3kT
where ḡff is the velocity averaged Gaunt factor. Notice the
spectrum is flat out to hν ∼ kT
Thermal Emission and Absorption
• Emission coefficient
dW
= 4πjνff
dtdV dν
3 2 6
 1/2
ff 2 Z e 2πm −hν/kT
jν = 2 3
ne ni e ḡff
3m c 3kT
• Kirchoff’s law Sν = jν /αν gives the thermal absorption coefficient
3 2
ff ff ff 2hν /c
jν = αν Bν (T ) = αν hν/kT
e −1
2 6
 1/2
ff 4Z e 2πm −3 −hν/kT
αν = 2
n n
e i ν (1 − e )ḡff
3m ch 3kT
• Note the steep spectrum in frequency: low frequency absorption is
very efficient and yields a high optical depth Iν → Sν
Radiative Transfer
• Alternately, non-relativistic bremsstrahlung can be characterized
by a collision term like the Kompaneets equation (k = h̄ = c = 1,
x = hν/kTe )
r  −1/2
−x
2 Te e
Cff [f ] = Z 2 αTe−3 ni ne σT gff 3 [1 − (ex − 1)f ]
π m x
note that emission and absorption is balanced only if
f = 1/(ex − 1), a true blackbody (no chemical potential)
Galactic Bremsstrahung
• Hα (n = 3 → 2, hydrogen) as a tracer of ionized gas and hence
bremsstrahlung emission in galaxy