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Department of Mathematical Sciences


Publication details

Gourgouliatos, Konstantinos N & Komissarov, Serguei S (2018). Relativistic Centrifugal Instability. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters 475(1): L125-L129.

Author(s) from Durham


Near the central engine, many astrophysical jets are expected to rotate about their axis. Further out they are expected to go through the processes of reconfinement and recollimation. In both these cases, the flow streams along a concave surface and hence, it is subject to the centrifugal force. It is well known that such flows may experience the centrifugal instability (CFI), to which there are many laboratory examples. The recent computer simulations of relativistic jets from active galactic nuclei undergoing the process of reconfinement show that in such jets CFI may dominate over the Kelvin–Helmholtz instability associated with velocity shear (Gourgouliatos & Komissarov). In this letter, we generalize the Rayleigh criterion for CFI in rotating fluids to relativistic flows using a heuristic analysis. We also present the results of computer simulations which support our analytic criterion for the case of an interface separating two uniformly rotating cylindrical flows. We discuss the difference between CFI and the Rayleigh–Taylor instability in flows with curved streamlines.