Jet simulations from binary supermassive black holes

Simulation overview

My name is Maya Horton and I am a Research Fellow in the School of Physics, Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Hertfordshire.

I create simulations of radio-loud AGN being created by jet precession from supermassive black hole binary systems. Some of my recent simulations are linked to at the bottom of the page, with higher resolution ones to be added soon. These show a range of precession morphologies depending on viewing angle, Mach injection speed, precession period and precession cone opening angle. Precession period is given in the number of turns per simulation time, where a "rapidly" precessing jet turns five times throughout one unit of simulation time. Jets with a precession period of 1 have only one single turn throughout their source lifetime, leading to much less pronounced morphological features. There are also straight jets with no precession.

The blue structures are a proxy for synchrotron emission, whilst the purple jets correspond to Mach structure. Jets have a half opening angle of 5 degrees and precession cone opening angle of 15, 30 and 50 degrees. The Mach 50 jet visualisations have been scaled to make faint structure visible; the synthetic radio maps for both Mach 50 and 100 have the same dynamic range.

The three views highlight how differently the same source can appear depending on its viewing angle. The first panel is a `top down' jet, whilst the second is `face on' and the third is `edge on', with respect to their orientation on the plane of the sky. Whilst these simulations do not include relativistic effects, we can see that known morphologies from existing radio sources can be created easily. These include classic `double double', x- and z-shaped sources among others.

The paper that these simulations appear in can be found on ADS here. A proof-of-concept tool for finding binary supermassive black hole separations from a jet path can be found in an earlier paper.


Precessing jet simulations

High resolution simulations are also available for a limited range of parameters. These show complex fluid dynamics arising as a consequence of precession.