A Fresh Look at Narrow-angle Tail Radio Galaxy Dynamics, Evolution, and Emissions

Brian J. O'neill, T. W. Jones, Chris Nolting, P. J. Mendygral

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We present a 3D magnetohydrodynamic study of narrow-angle tail (NAT) radio galaxy (RG) dynamics, including passive cosmic ray electrons. We follow the evolution of a bipolar-jet RG in a persistent crosswind through hundreds of Myr. We confirm traditional jet-bending models, while noting that our NAT exhibits a transitional morphology reminiscent of wide-angle radio tails. Once deflected, jets remain internally stable, but are intermittently disrupted by external disturbances induced by the NAT dynamics itself. The disruptions enhance jet and tail magnetic fields. Disrupted jet plasma is heterogeneously mixed with denser wind plasma, yielding patchy, filamentary tails that grow longer at a rate exceeding the wind speed. Such fast tail extension could, for example, allow NAT tails to overtake extraneous intracluster medium (ICM) features, such as shocks and shear layers downwind of where the tails first form. Those events, in turn, could generate enhanced radio emissions within the ICM features themselves that do not follow the geometrical extension of the tails past the encounter. Analysis of synthetic radio observations reveals an extended time period once the NAT has developed in which it displays a nearly steady-state morphology with integrated fluxes that are roughly constant, along with a self-similar, curved integrated spectrum. In an appendix, we outline a simple analytic jet trajectory formalism with one adjustable parameter, using it to illustrate explicit trajectories that extend the classic bending model to arbitrary jet-wind orientations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 10 2019

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