The interaction of optically emitting clouds with warm X-ray gas and hot, tenuous radio plasma in radio jet cocoons is modelled by 2D compressible hydrodynamic simulations. The initial setup is the Kelvin–Helmholtz instability at a contact surface of density contrast 104. The denser medium contains clouds of higher density. Optically thin radiation is realized via a cooling source term. The cool phase effectively extracts energy from the other gas which is both, radiated away and used for acceleration of the cold phase. This increases the system’s cooling rate substantially and leads to a massively amplified cold mass dropout. We show that it is feasible, given small seed clouds of the order of 100 M, that all of the optically emitting gas in a radio jet cocoon may be produced by this mechanism on the propagation time-scale of the jet. The mass is generally distributed as T−1/2 with temperature, with a prominent peak at 14 000 K. This peak is likely to be related to the counteracting effects of shock heating and a strong rise in the cooling function. The volume filling factor of cold gas in this peak is of the order of 10−5–10−3 and generally increases during the simulation time. The simulations tend towards an isotropic scale-free Kolmogorov-type energy spectrum over the simulation time-scale. We find the same Mach-number density relation as Kritsuk & Norman and show that this relation may explain the velocity widths of emission lines associated with high-redshift radio galaxies, if the environmental temperature is lower, or the jet-ambient density ratio is less extreme than in their low-redshift counterparts.
- hydrodynamics , instabilities , turbulence , methods: numerical , galaxies: jets