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Astron. Astrophys. 363, 1166-1176 (2000)

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Pressure- and magnetic shear-driven instabilities in rotating MHD jets

E. Kersalé 1, P.-Y. Longaretti 1 and G. Pelletier 1,2

1 Laboratoire d'Astrophysique, Observatoire de Grenoble, B.P. 53X, 38041 Grenoble Cedex 9, France ([forename].[name]@obs.ujf-grenoble.fr)
2 Institut Universitaire de France

Received 6 July 2000 / Accepted 20 October 2000


We derive new stability criteria for purely MHD instabilities in rotating jets, in the framework of the ballooning ordering expansion. Quite unexpectedly, they involve a term which is linear in the magnetic shear. This implies that cylindrical configurations can be destabilized by a negative magnetic shear as well as by a favorable equilibrium pressure gradient, in distinction with the predictions of Suydam's stability criterion, which suggests on the contrary that the shear is always stabilizing.

We have used these criteria to establish sufficient conditions for instability. In particular, the magnetic shear can always destabilize jets with vanishing current density on the axis, a feature which is generically found in jets which are launched from an accretion disk. We also show that standard nonrotating jet models (where the toroidal field dominates the poloidal one), which are known to be unstable, are not stabilized by rotation, unless the plasma [FORMULA] parameter and the strength of the rotation forces are both close to the limit allowed by the condition of radial equilibrium.

The new magnetic shear-driven instability found in this paper, as well as the more conventional pressure-driven instability, might provide us with a potential energy source for the particle acceleration mechanisms underlying the high energy emission which takes place in the interior of AGN jets.

Key words: Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) – ISM: jets and outflows – galaxies: jets

Send offprint requests to: P.-Y. Longaretti

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: December 5, 2000