EDP Sciences
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Volume 425, Number 2, October II 2004
Page(s) 385 - 393
Section Astrophysical processes
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20041273

A&A 425, 385-393 (2004)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20041273

Accretion disk instability revisited

Transient dynamics of rotating shear flow
P. A. Yecko

Department of Astronomy, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
    e-mail: yecko@columbia.edu Department of Physics and Astronomy, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA

(Received 11 May 2004 / Accepted 28 June 2004)

Accretion disk flow in a local Cartesian (or "shearing box") approximation is examined for viscous three-dimensional linear disturbances. Eigenvalue computations predict that the flow is asymptotically stable unless the rotation number falls in the range $0<{\rm Ro}<1/2$, in agreement with predictions of inviscid theory; Keplerian flow ( ${\rm Ro}=1/q=2/3$) is accordingly stable. Analysis of non-modal disturbances predicts large transient amplification factors, implying that the flow, although asymptotically stable, may be transiently unstable. Strong rotation, including Keplerian, two-dimensionalizes the system: the largest growth factors are found for disturbances which are uniform along the direction of the rotation axis and amplification occurs via the Orr mechanism, as in 2D shear flow. Amplification factors scale as ${\rm Re}^{2/3}$, implying very strong growth in actual disks. The implications of transient instability of rotating shear on disk turbulence are discussed.

Key words: accretion, accretion disks -- instabilities -- turbulence -- hydrodynamics

© ESO 2004

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