Journal Article

Recollimation boundary layers in relativistic jets

Susanna Kohler, Mitchell C. Begelman and Kris Beckwith

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 422, issue 3, pages 2282-2290
Published in print May 2012 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online May 2012 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Recollimation boundary layers in relativistic jets

Show Summary Details


We study the collimation of relativistic hydrodynamic jets by the pressure of an ambient medium in the limit where the jet interior has lost causal contact with its surroundings. For a jet with an ultrarelativistic equation of state and external pressure that decreases as a power of spherical radius, p ∝ r−η, the jet interior will lose causal contact when η > 2. However, the outer layers of the jet gradually collimate towards the jet axis as long as η < 4, leading to the formation of a shocked boundary layer. Assuming that pressure matching across the shock front determines the shape of the shock, we study the resulting structure of the jet in two ways: first by assuming that the pressure remains constant across the shocked boundary layer and looking for solutions to the shock jump equations, and then by constructing self-similar boundary-layer solutions that allow for a pressure gradient across the shocked layer. We demonstrate that the constant-pressure solutions can be characterized by four initial parameters that determine the jet shape and whether the shock closes to the axis. We show that self-similar solutions for the boundary layer can be constructed that exhibit a monotonic decrease in pressure across the boundary layer from the contact discontinuity to the shock front, and that the addition of this pressure gradient in our initial model generally causes the shock front to move outwards, creating a thinner boundary layer and decreasing the tendency of the shock to close. We discuss trends based on the value of the pressure power-law index η.

Keywords: hydrodynamics; relativistic processes; shock waves; galaxies: active; galaxies: jets

Journal Article.  7298 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.