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J.A. Biretta (STScI)
Jets or highly collimated outflows are ubiquitous throughout astrophysics. Young stellar objects and aged stars within our own galaxy display jets with typical flow speeds of a few hundred km s-1, and scale sizes between ~100 AU and ~10 parsecs. Much larger speeds, nearly equal to c, the speed of light, are seen in galactic X-ray binary systems which are associated with stellar-mass black hole candiates. Extragalactic jets similarly have initial speeds near c, but are associated with super-massive black holes (106 to 109 M\odot) at the centers of active galaxies, and propagate outward to distances of kpc or even Mpc from the host galaxy. We give a brief overview of the current observational evidence on astrophysical jets, with emphasis on their formation, composition, structure, kinematics, and impact on the host object.
This work was supported in part by NASA grant HST GO-07274.