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Life cycles and dynamics

Life cycles and dynamics - and thus the most important...

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Life cycles and dynamics The largest radio galaxies have lobes or plumes extending to megaparsec scales (more in the case of giant radio galaxies like 3C236 ), implying a timescale for growth of the order of tens to hundreds of millions of years. This means that, except in the case of very small, very young sources, we cannot observe radio source dynamics directly, and so must resort to theory and inferences from large numbers of objects. Clearly radio sources must start small and grow larger. In the case of sources with lobes, the dynamics are fairly simple [3] : the jets feed the lobes, the pressure of the lobes increases, and the lobes expand. How fast they expand depends on the density and pressure of the external medium. The highest-pressure phase of the external medium,
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Unformatted text preview: and thus the most important phase from the point of view of the dynamics, is the X-ray emitting diffuse hot gas. For a long time it was assumed that powerful sources would expand supersonically, pushing a shock through the external medium. However, X-ray observations show that the internal lobe pressures of powerful FRII sources are often close to the external thermal pressures and not much higher than the external pressures, as would be required for supersonic expansion. [9] The only unambiguously supersonically expanding system known consists of the inner lobes of the low-power radio galaxy Centaurus A which are probably a result of a comparatively recent outburst of the active nucleus....
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