Journal Article

Active galactic nuclei activity: self-regulation from backflow

V. Antonuccio-Delogu and Joseph Silk

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 405, issue 2, pages 1303-1314
Published in print June 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online June 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Active galactic nuclei activity: self-regulation from backflow

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We study the internal circulation within the cocoon carved out by the relativistic jet emanating from an active galactic nucleus (AGN) within the interstellar medium (ISM) of its host galaxy. First, we develop a model for the origin of the internal flow, noticing that a significant increase of large-scale velocity circulation within the cocoon arises as significant gradients in the density and entropy are created near the hotspot (a consequence of Crocco’s vorticity generation theorem). We find simple and accurate approximate solutions for the large-scale flow, showing that a backflow towards the few inner parsec region develops. We solve the appropriate fluid dynamic equations, and we use these solutions to predict the mass inflow rates towards the central regions.

We then perform a series of 2D simulations of the propagation of jets using flash 2.5, in order to validate the predictions of our model. In these simulations, we vary the mechanical input power between 1043 and 1045 erg s−1, and assume a Navarro–Frenk–White (NFW) density profile for the dark matter halo, within which an isothermal diffuse ISM is embedded. The backflows which arise supply the central AGN region with very low angular-momentum gas, at average rates of the order of , the exact value seen to be strongly dependent on the central ISM density (for fixed input jet power). The time-scales of these inflows are apparently weakly dependent on the jet/ISM parameters, and are of the order of .

We then argue that these backflows could (at least partially) feed the AGN, and provide a self-regulatory mechanism of AGN activity, that is not directly controlled by, but instead controls, the star formation rate within the central circumnuclear disc.

Keywords: methods: numerical; galaxies: active; galaxies: jets; galaxies: nuclei

Journal Article.  7537 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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