A powerful hydrodynamic booster for relativistic jets

Astronomy and Astrophysics – Astrophysics

Scientific paper

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4 pages, 4 figures (1 in color). ApJ Letters accepted

Scientific paper


Velocities close to the speed of light are a robust observational property of the jets observed in microquasars and AGNs, and are expected to be behind much of the phenomenology of GRBs. Yet, the mechanism boosting relativistic jets to such large Lorentz factors is still essentially unknown. Building on recent general-relativistic, multidimensional simulations of progenitors of short GRBs, we discuss a new effect in relativistic hydrodynamics which can act as an efficient booster in jets. This effect is purely hydrodynamical and occurs when large velocities tangential to a discontinuity are present in the flow, yielding Lorentz factors $\Gamma \sim 10^2-10^3$ or larger in flows with moderate initial Lorentz factors. Although without a Newtonian counterpart, this effect can be explained easily through the most elementary hydrodynamical flow: i.e., a relativistic Riemann problem.

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