Articles written in Pramana – Journal of Physics
Volume 77 Issue 1 July 2011 pp 53-66
Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (Chandra) was just eight years old when the ﬁrst astrophysical jet was discovered in M87. Since then, jets have been uncovered with a wide variety of sources including accretion disks orbiting stellar and massive black holes, neutron stars, isolated pulsars, 𝛾-ray bursts, protostars and planetary nebulae. This talk will be primarily concerned with collimated hydromagnetic outﬂows associated with spinning, massive black holes in active galactic nuclei. Jets exhibit physical processes central to three of the major research themes in Chandrasekhar’s research career – radiative transfer, magnetohydrodynamics and black holes. Relativistic jets can be thought of as `exhausts’ from both the hole and its orbiting accretion disk, carrying away the energy liberated by the rotating spacetime and the accreting gas that is not radiated. However, no aspect of jet formation, propagation and radiation can be regarded as understood in detail. The combination of new 𝛾-ray, radio and optical observations together with impressive advances in numerical simulation make this a good time to settle some long-standing debates.
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