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The R Aqr jet was observed with the VLA B-configuration at two epochs separated by ~13.2 yr. Comparison of the resulting 6 cm continuum images show that the radio jet has undergone a lateral counterclockwise rotation of ~6-12 on the plane of the sky. The model of jet parcels on independent trajectories is difficult to reconcile with these observations and leads us to consider a path-oriented jet (i.e., younger parcels follow the same path as older parcels). Comparison of the most recent radio image with a nearly contemporaneous HST /FOC ultraviolet image at ~2330 A suggests that the ultraviolet emission lies along the leading side of the rotating radio jet. In conjunction with a proper motion analysis of the jet material that yields empirical space-velocity and resulting acceleration-magnitude relationships as a function of distance from the central source, we evaluate the observational results in terms of a schematic model in which the jet emission consists of plane-parallel isothermal shocks along the leading edge of rotation. In such a radiating shock, the ultraviolet-emitting region is consistent with the adiabatic region in the form of a high-temperature, low-density sheath that surrounds the cooled postshock radio-emitting region. Within the context of the schematic model, we obtain the temperatures, densities, and pressures within the preshock, adiabatic, and postshock regions as a function of distance from the central source; the physical parameters so derived compare favorably to previously published estimates. We obtain a total jet mass of 3.1x10^-5 M and an age of ~115 yr. We evaluate the model in the context of its density-boundary condition, its applicability to an episodic or quasi-continuous jet, and angular momentum considerations.


This article was originally published in Astrophysical Journal, volume 490, in 1997.

Peer Reviewed



IOP Publishing



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