Data Centre for Astrophysics
Astronomy Department of the University of Geneva

Shock-in-jet model for quasars and microquasars


We present the theoretical background and detailed equations for the synchrotron emission of a shock wave propagating in a relativistic jet. We then show how the evolution of an outburst in this shock-in-jet scenario can be analytically described and parameterized to be fitted to multi-frequency lightcurves of galactic and extragalactic sources. This is done here for the first time with a completely physical description of the jet and the shocked gas, while previous studies used a more phenomenological approach based on the observed properties of the outbursts. Another interesting addition to previous work is the introduction of a low-energy cut of the electron energy distribution that allows for much more diverse synchrotron spectral shapes. To demonstrate and illustrate the new methodology, we present results of infrared-to-radio lightcurve fitting of a succession of outbursts observed in 1994 in the microquasar Cyg X-3. We find that the diversity of outbursts in shape, amplitude, frequency range and timescale can be fairly described by varying only the strength of the shock and its build-up distance from the apex of the jet. A rapid build-up results in high-frequency outbursts evolving on short timescales, while slowly evolving, low-frequency outbursts form and evolve further out in the jet. We conclude by outlining future developments, in particular the inclusion of the associated synchrotron self-Compton emission at X-rays and gamma-rays.
This work was done as part of an on-going research project on the characterization and modeling of the synchrotron emission of shock waves in relativistic jets. More information, images and animations, as well as links to previous studies on various galactic and extragalactic sources can be found on my WWW page dedicated to jets.