Three-dimensional simulations of MHD jet propagation through uniform and stratified external environments

S. M. O'Neill, I. L. Tregillis, T. W. Jones, Dongsu Ryu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


We present a set of high-resolution three-dimensional MHD simulations of steady light, supersonic jets, exploring the influence of jet Mach number and the ambient medium on jet propagation and energy deposition over long distances. The results are compared to simple self-similar scaling relations for the morphological evolution of jet-driven structures and to previously published two-dimensional simulations. For this study we simulated the propagation of light jets with internal Mach numbers 3 and 12 to lengths exceeding 100 initial jet radii in both uniform and stratified atmospheres. The propagating jets asymptotically deposit approximately half of their energy flux as thermal energy in the ambient atmosphere, almost independent of jet Mach number or the external density gradient. Nearly one-quarter of the jet total energy flux goes directly into dissipative heating of the ICM, supporting arguments for effective feedback from AGNs to cluster media. The remaining energy resides primarily in the jet and cocoon structures. Despite having different shock distributions and magnetic field features, global trends in energy flow are similar among the different models. As expected, the jets advance more rapidly through stratified atmospheres than uniform environments. The asymptotic head velocity in King-type atmospheres shows little or no deceleration. This contrasts with jets in uniform media with heads that slow as they propagate. This suggests that the energy deposited by jets of a given length and power depends strongly on the structure of the ambient medium. While our low Mach number jets are more easily disrupted, their cocoons obey evolutionary scaling relations similar to the high Mach number jets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)717-732
Number of pages16
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 I
StatePublished - Nov 10 2005


  • Galaxies: jets
  • MHD
  • Methods: numerical


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