Reliability of astrophysical jet simulations in 2D. On inter-code reliability and numerical convergence

M. Krause, M. Camenzind

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21 Citations (Scopus)
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In the present paper, we examine the convergence behavior and inter-code reliability of astrophysical jet simulations in axial symmetry. We consider both pure hydrodynamic jets and jets with a dynamically significant magnetic field. The setups were chosen to match the setups of two other publications, and recomputed with the MHD code NIRVANA. We show that NIRVANA and the two other codes give comparable, but not identical results. We explain the differences by the different application of artificial viscosity in the three codes and numerical details, which can be summarized in a resolution effect, in the case without magnetic field: NIRVANA turns out to be a fair code of medium efficiency. It needs approximately twice the resolution as the code by Lind (Lind et al. 1989) and half the resolution as the code by Kössl (Kössl & Müller 1988). We find that some global properties of a hydrodynamical jet simulation, like e.g. the bow shock velocity, converge at 100 points per beam radius (ppb) with NIRVANA. The situation is quite different after switching on the toroidal magnetic field: in this case, global properties converge even at 10 ppb. In both cases, details of the inner jet structure and especially the terminal shock region are still insufficiently resolved, even at our highest resolution of 70 ppb in the magnetized case and 400 ppb for the pure hydrodynamic jet. The magnetized jet even suffers from a fatal retreat of the Mach disk towards the inflow boundary, which indicates that this simulation does not converge, in the end. This is also in definite disagreement with earlier simulations, and challenges further studies of the problem with other codes. In the case of our highest resolution simulation, we can report two new features: first, small scale Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities are excited at the contact discontinuity next to the jet head. This slows down the development of the long wavelength Kelvin-Helmholtz instability and its turbulent cascade to smaller wavelengths. Second, the jet head develops Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities which manage to entrain an increasing amount of mass from the ambient medium with resolution. This region extends in our highest resolution simulation over 2 jet radii in the axial direction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)789-804
Number of pages16
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Issue numberIII
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2001


  • magnetohydrodynamics
  • shock waves
  • galaxies: jets


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