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Active galactic nuclei jets simulated with smoothed particle hydrodynamics

Huško, Filip; Lacey, Cedric G

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Simulations of active galactic nuclei (AGN) jets have thus far been performed almost exclusively using grid-based codes. We present the first results from hydrodynamical tests of AGN jets, and their interaction with the intracluster medium (ICM), using smoothed particle hydrodynamics as implemented in the SWIFT code. We launch these jets into a constant-density ICM, as well as ones with a power-law density profile. We also vary the jet power, velocity, opening angle, and numerical resolution. In all cases we find broad agreement between our jets and theoretical predictions for the lengths of the jets and the lobes they inflate, as well as the radii of the lobes. The jets first evolve ballistically, and then transition to a self-similar phase, during which the lobes expand in a self-similar fashion (keeping a constant shape). In this phase the kinetic and thermal energies in the lobes and in the shocked ICM are constant fractions of the total injected energy. In our standard simulation, two thirds of the initially injected energy is transferred to the ICM by the time the jets are turned off, mainly through a bow shock. Of that, 70% is in kinetic form, indicating that the bow shock does not fully and efficiently thermalize while the jet is active. At resolutions typical of large cosmological simulations (mgas ≈ 107 M⊙), the shape of the lobes is close to self-similar predictions to an accuracy of 15% ⁠. This indicates that the basic physics of jet-inflated lobes can be correctly simulated even at such resolutions (≈500 particles per jet).


Huško, F., & Lacey, C. G. (2023). Active galactic nuclei jets simulated with smoothed particle hydrodynamics. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 520(4), 5090-5109.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 7, 2023
Online Publication Date Feb 10, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date May 10, 2023
Publicly Available Date May 10, 2023
Journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Print ISSN 0035-8711
Electronic ISSN 1365-2966
Publisher Royal Astronomical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 520
Issue 4
Pages 5090-5109


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Copyright Statement
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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