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Relativistic Jets from Active Galactic Nuclei

Blandford, Roger and Meier, David and Readhead, Anthony (2019) Relativistic Jets from Active Galactic Nuclei. Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 57 (1). pp. 467-509. ISSN 0066-4146. doi:10.1146/annurev-astro-081817-051948.

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The nuclei of most normal galaxies contain supermassive black holes, which can accrete gas through a disk and become active. These active galactic nuclei (AGNs) can form jets that are observed on scales from astronomical units to megaparsecs and from meter wavelengths to TeV energies. High-resolution radio imaging and multiwavelength/messenger campaigns are elucidating the conditions under which this happens. Evidence is presented that: Relativistic AGN jets are formed when the black hole spins and the the accretion disk is strongly magnetized, perhaps on account of gas accreting at high latitude beyond the black hole sphere of influence. AGN jets are collimated close to the black hole by magnetic stress associated with a disk wind. Higher-power jets can emerge from their galactic nuclei in a relativistic, supersonic, and proton-dominated state, and they terminate in strong, hot spot shocks; lower-power jets are degraded to buoyant plumes and bubbles. Jets may accelerate protons to EeV energies, which contribute to the cosmic ray spectrum and may initiate pair cascades that can efficiently radiate synchrotron γ-rays. Jets were far more common when the Universe was a few billion years old and black holes and massive galaxies were growing rapidly. Jets can have a major influence on their environments, stimulating and limiting the growth of galaxies. The observational prospects for securing our understanding of AGN jets are bright.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Blandford, Roger0000-0002-1854-5506
Meier, David0000-0001-9436-9471
Readhead, Anthony0000-0001-9152-961X
Additional Information:© 2019 by Annual Reviews. Disclosure Statement: The authors are not aware of any affiliations, memberships, funding, or financial holdings that might be perceived as affecting the objectivity of this review. We thank Ramesh Narayan for his careful and constructive review of the first draft of this article and Noemie Globus for a careful reading of the revised draft. Beyond this, our debt and gratitude to more colleagues than we can possibly list, who have framed our evolving views on AGN jets over the past fifty years, are deep and sincere.
Group:Astronomy Department
Subject Keywords:active galactic nuclei, black holes, jets, extragalactic radio sources, γ-ray sources, blazars
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190919-131151825
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Relativistic Jets from Active Galactic Nuclei. Roger Blandford, David Meier, Anthony Readhead. Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics 2019 57:1, 467-509.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:98759
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:19 Sep 2019 20:34
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 17:41

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