Formation of ‘bullets’ by hydrodynamical instabilities in stellar outflows

James M. Stone, Jianjun Xu, Lee G. Mundy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


IMAGES of young stars1 and supernova remnants2 often reveal small, high-density knots of material which are interpreted as 'bullets' ejected by the source and propagating at supersonic speeds into the surrounding interstellar medium. But it is unclear how these bullets could be created and accelerated without disrupting their structure. An alternative interpretation of these features is that they condense in situ in high-velocity stellar winds as a result of hydrodynamical instabilities—such mechanisms have been proposed to explain the condensations seen in supernova ejecta3, and may also operate in planetary nebulae. Here we show that similar processes can also form bullets in the poorly collimated winds from young stars. We therefore suggest that bullets associated with outflow sources should not, in general, be ascribed to explosive events at the source; rather, they form as a direct result of the interaction between the outflowing gas and the surrounding medium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-317
Number of pages3
Issue number6547
StatePublished - Sep 28 1995
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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