Collimation and confinement of magnetic jets by external media

Amir Levinson, Mitchell C. Begelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We study the collimation of a highly magnetized jet by a surrounding cocoon that forms as a result of the interaction of the jet with the external medium. We show that in regions where the jet is well confined by the cocoon, current-driven instabilities should develop over timescales shorter than the expansion time of the jet's head. We speculate that these instabilities would give rise to complete magnetic field destruction, whereby the jet undergoes a transition from high to low sigma above the collimation zone. Using this assumption, we construct a self-consistent model for the evolution of the jet-cocoon system in an ambient medium of arbitrary density profile. We apply the model to jet breakout in long gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) and show that the jet is highly collimated inside the envelope of the progenitor star and is likely to remain confined well after breakout. We speculate that this strong confinement may provide a channel for magnetic field conversion in GRB outflows, whereby the hot, low-sigma jet section thereby produced is the source of the photospheric emission observed in many bursts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number148
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 20 Feb 2013


  • galaxies: jets
  • gamma-ray burst: general
  • magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
  • relativistic processes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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