High accretion rates in magnetised Keplerian discs mediated by a Parker instability driven dynamo

A Johansen, Yuri Levin

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Abstract

Hydromagnetic stresses in accretion discs have been the subject of intense theoretical research over the past one and a half decades. Most of the disc simulations have assumed a small initial magnetic field and studied the turbulence that arises from the magnetorotational instability. However, gaseous discs in galactic nuclei and in some binary systems are likely to have significant initial magnetisation. Motivated by this, we performed ideal magnetohydrodynamic simulations of strongly magnetised, vertically stratified discs in a Keplerian potential. Our initial equilibrium configuration, which has an azimuthal magnetic field in equipartion with thermal pressure, is unstable to the Parker instability. This leads to the expelling of magnetic field arcs, anchored in the midplane of the disc, to around five scale heights from the midplane. Transition to turbulence happens primarily through magnetorotational instability in the resulting vertical fields, although magnetorotational shear instability in the unperturbed azimuthal field plays a significant role as well, especially in the midplane where buoyancy is weak. High magnetic and hydrodynamical stresses arise, yielding an effective I?-value of around 0.1 in our highest resolution run. Azimuthal magnetic field expelled by magnetic buoyancy from the disc is continuously replenished by the stretching of a radial field created as gas parcels slide in the linear gravity field along inclined magnetic field lines. This dynamo process, where the bending of field lines by the Parker instability leads to re-creation of the azimuthal field, implies that highly magnetised discs are astrophysically viable and that they have high accretion rates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501 - 514
Number of pages14
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Volume490
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

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