The College of New Jersey
SPS Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Research
Three-Dimensional Relativistic Jet Simulations of Radio-Loud Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN)
A member of The College of New Jersey’s Class of 2019, Terance Schuh graduated with a degree in physics and a degree in mathematics. It was not always clear for him what his path in physics might be, but many great mentors and lots of different experiences along the way have allowed him to find his footing. He now wishes to not only pursue a career in research, but one that allows him to help others discover the same excitement he has found within physics.
During his time as an undergraduate he took advantage of just about everything his physics department had to offer as well as what resources like SPS had to offer. Terance has worked on two different research projects at his college, an REU project at Indiana University – Bloomington, and a research project at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. He has presented his work through posters at international conferences and he is a coauthor on a paper published in The Astrophysical Journal. On top of research, during his junior year he served as treasurer of his school’s SPS chapter and as a senior he was the organization’s president. Within his department he also held jobs such as tutor, laboratory technician, and observatory technician. Lastly, all his experiences inspired him to co-write, along with another former student, a handbook for future undergraduate physics students titled The Unofficial Guide to Life as a Physics Major (google it!). Terance plans on attending graduate school in astrophysics to further his career as a physicist.
We have computed a suite of simulations of propagating three-dimensional relativistic astrophysical jets, involving substantial ranges of initial jet Lorentz factors and ratios of jet density to external medium density. These allow us to categorize the respective active galactic nuclei (AGN) into Fanaroff-Riley class I (jet dominated) and FR class II (lobe-dominated) based upon the stability and morphology of the simulations. We used an astrophysical code, the Athena code, to produce a substantial collection of large 3D variations of jets, many of which propagate stably and quickly for over 100 jet radii, but others of which eventually go unstable and fill up slowing advancing lobes. Comparing the times when some jets go unstable to these initial parameters allow us to find a threshold where radio-loud AGNs transition from class II to class I. With these high-resolution fully 3D relativistic simulations we can represent the jets more accurately and thus improve upon and refine earlier results that were based on 2D simulations.