MHD simulations of active galactic nucleus jets in a dynamic galaxy cluster medium

P. J. Mendygral, T. W. Jones, K. Dolag

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We present a pair of three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamical simulations of intermittent jets from a central active galactic nucleus (AGN) in a galaxy cluster extracted from a high-resolution cosmological simulation. The selected cluster was chosen as an apparently relatively relaxed system, not having undergone a major merger in almost 7Gyr. Despite this characterization and history, the intracluster medium (ICM) contains quite active "weather." We explore the effects of this ICM weather on the morphological evolution of the AGN jets and lobes. The orientation of the jets is different in the two simulations so that they probe different aspects of the ICM structure and dynamics. We find that even for this cluster, which can be characterized as relaxed by an observational standard, the large-scale, bulk ICM motions can significantly distort the jets and lobes. Synthetic X-ray observations of the simulations show that the jets produce complex cavity systems, while synthetic radio observations reveal bending of the jets and lobes similar to wide-angle tail radio sources. The jets are cycled on and off with a 26Myr period using a 50% duty cycle. This leads to morphological features similar to those in "double-double" radio galaxies. While the jet and ICM magnetic fields are generally too weak in the simulations to play a major role in the dynamics, Maxwell stresses can still become locally significant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number166
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 10 2012


  • X-rays: galaxies: clusters
  • galaxies: clusters: general
  • galaxies: jets
  • magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
  • methods: numerical


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