The hydrodynamics of astrophysical jets: scaled experiments and numerical simulations
1 Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Aerospaziali, Politecnico di Milano, 20156 Milano, Italy
2 Dipartimento di Fisica, Università degli Studi di Torino, via Pietro Giuria 1, 10125 Torino, Italy
3 Dipartimento di Ingegneria Meccanica e Aerospaziale, Politecnico di Torino, 10129 Torino, Italy
4 Retired, formerly Dipartimento di Ingegneria Aerospaziale, Politecnico di Milano, 20156 Milano, Italy
Received: 4 January 2013
Accepted: 12 April 2013
Context. In this paper we study the propagation of hypersonic hydrodynamic jets (Mach number >5) in a laboratory vessel and make comparisons with numerical simulations of axially symmetric flows with the same initial and boundary conditions. The astrophysical context is that of the jets originating around young stellar objects (YSOs).
Aims. In order to gain a deeper insight into the phenomenology of YSO jets, we performed a set of experiments and numerical simulations of hypersonic jets in the range of Mach numbers from 10 to 20 and for jet-to-ambient density ratios from 0.85 to 5.4, using different gas species and observing jet lengths of the order of 150 initial radii or more. Exploiting the scalability of the hydrodynamic equations, we intend to reproduce the YSO jet behaviour with respect to jet velocity and elapsed times. In addition, we can make comparisons between the simulated, the experimental, and the observed morphologies.
Methods. In the experiments the gas pressure and temperature are increased by a fast, quasi-isentropic compression by means of a piston system operating on a time scale of tens of milliseconds, while the gas density is visualized and measured by means of an electron beam system. We used the PLUTO software for the numerical solution of mixed hyperbolic/parabolic conservation laws targeting high Mach number flows in astrophysical fluid dynamics. We considered axisymmetric initial conditions and carried out numerical simulations in cylindrical geometry. The code has a modular flexible structure whereby different numerical algorithms can be separately combined to solve systems of conservation laws using the finite volume or finite difference approach based on Godunov-type schemes.
Results. The agreement between experiments and numerical simulations is fairly good in most of the comparisons. The resulting scaled flow velocities and elapsed times are close to the ones shown by observations. The morphologies of the density distributions agree with the observed ones as well.
Conclusions. The laboratory and the simulated hypersonic jets are all pressure matched, i.e. their axial regions are almost isentropic at the nozzle exit. They maintain their collimation for long distances in terms of the initial jet radii, without including magnetic confinement effects. This yields a qualitatively good agreement with the observed YSO jet morphologies. It remains to be seen what happens when non-axially symmetric perturbations of the flow are imposed at the nozzle, both in the experiment and in the simulation.
Key words: ISM: jets and outflows / hydrodynamics / stars: winds, outflows / Herbig-Haro objects / shock waves
© ESO, 2013