The Phenomenology Of Jets In Astrophysics

Project and Seminar Material for Physics

Project and Seminar Material for Physics


The phenomenology of jet in astrophysics was studied. Analytical methods were used to obtain an equation for describing jet motion. From the analysis, we understood that βT > 1, where βT is the apparent jet velocity along the observers line of sight. The observed motions of the components show curvatures and changes in velocity. Curved trajectories are due to observed perpendicular acceleration, while variations in velocity are due to changes in apparent parallel acceleration.

Chapter One


Background to the Study

Astrophysical jets are observed in the Universe in a large variety of environments and under a wide range of sizes and powers. They are generated in active galactic nuclei (AGNs) and YSOs, can travel up to a few thousands of Megaparsecs, and reach the largest powers observed in the Universe (up to ∼1047−48 erg s−1), (Zanni et al., 2003; Godfrey and Shabala, 2013). Astrophysical jets can be found in giant molecular clouds, emanating in the vicinities of young stellar objects (YSOs), and reaching distances of some parsecs (Reipurth and Bally, 2001). They are also located near neutron stars in galactic X-ray binary star systems, such as GRS 1915 + 105 that behave as microquasars generating relativistic jets (Fender, 2004). Astrophysical jets can be found in the asymptotic giant branch (post-AGB) stars as well in pre-planetary and planetary nebulae. Opposite, precessing jets are observed in the SS433 binary source, leading to a peculiar phenomenology (Frank, 2011). A jet-like structure is observed, at X-ray energies, inside the Crab Nebula departing from the embedded pulsar (Hester, 2008). Finally, jets can be at the base of the phenomenology of gamma-ray bursts, observed at the highest radiation energies that are still elusive phenomena because of their extreme distances (Granot, 2007).

Statement of Problem

In recent years, we have seen many laboratory experiments that try to reproduce some aspects of the jet phenomenology, with particular concern towards YSO jets. These aspects are mainly related to the jet origin, propagation, and emission (Bellan et al 2005, 2009, Falize et al 2011, Gregory et al 2008, González et al 2009, Hartigan et al 2009, Lebedev et al 2005, Suzuki-Vidal 2010, Rus et al 2002).

With the goal to address the propagation of YSO jets and their interaction with the ambient medium, Tordella et al (2011) (Paper I) and Belan et al (2013) (Paper II) studied in the laboratory and by numerical means hypersonic hydrodynamic (HD) flows. In Paper I the authors considered as main jet parameters the Mach number M and the jet-to-ambient density ratio η and studied, both experimentally and numerically, representative cases of high and small values of density ratio. In Paper II they analyzed several cases with Mach number and density ratios consistent with those derived from the observations of YSO jets.

Objective of the Study

  1. In this paper we focus our attention on the measure of the spreading of the laboratory jets and the comparison with the results obtained by numerical simulations.
  2. We also discuss the appearance of sinuous structures observed in some laboratory jets and the extent to which these features may develop as the response to non-axial perturbations in numerical simulations.

Significance of the Study

We discuss observations used to infer the presence of accretion disks in astrophysical sources and the disks’ association with evidence for astrophysical jets. We highlight some important results from past and current literature that show parallels between the temporal behavior of an active galaxy (NGC 5128) and a galactic microquasar (GRS 1915+105). In addition, we note the remarkable observations of the time history of SCO X-1 from VLBI data at radio frequencies.

Chapter Five


We have examined two basic aspects of the propagation of hypersonic jets: spreading and stability. Observations (see e.g., the review by Reipurth and Bally 2001) point out that jets from YSOs have an observational Mach number ranging from 10 to 40, a jet-to-ambient density ratio in between 1 and 10 and a Reynolds number exceeding 1010. Although in this laboratory experiment the length scales are very different from astrophysical systems, two critical dimensionless parameters, such as the Mach number and the density ratio, have similar values. And the parameters that are larger in astrophysical systems, such as the Reynolds number, are sufficiently large for the experiment to capture the asymptotic behaviour. Moreover, it should be noted that, as long as radiation transport and relativistic and magneto-hydrodynamic effects can be ignored in the astrophysical situation of interest, the scaling between the experimental system and the corresponding astrophysical systems will primarily depend on the internal Mach number of the jet and on the density ratio, that can be reproduced by the present setup. On the other hand, in this experiment the radiative effects cannot be considered because of the limitations of the present setup, which is a low energy density facility.

Our results indicate that the spreading decreases with the jet Mach number and becomes smaller for heavier jets. The resulting jet opening angle remains well within the variability range observed in jets from YSOs.
Starting from non-axially symmetric oscillations, observed in Paper II for high Mach number jets, we have carried out 3D numerical simulations for testing the onset and the nonlinear evolution of potentially disruptive asymmetric modes. We have imposed two different values of the initial perturbation amplitude and transverse velocity and found that the jet was undergoing non-axial oscillations but maintained its integrity for the length of the domain.
Finally, in order to test the consequences of the main limitation of the diagnostics technique, that is the possibility of observing a limited fraction of the jet, we have performed a test case by treating the simulated data with the same juxtaposition technique used for the laboratory data. By comparison with the original figure, we have verified that this technique leads to a reasonable representation of the actual jet propagation details.

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