A&A 488, 451-461 (2008)
On self-sustained dynamo cycles in accretion discsG. Lesur and G. I. Ogilvie
Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge, Centre for Mathematical Sciences, Wilberforce Road, Cambridge CB3 0WA, UK
Received 7 May 2008 / Accepted 6 July 2008
Context. MHD turbulence is known to exist in shearing boxes with either zero or nonzero net magnetic flux. However, the way turbulence survives in the zero-net-flux case is not explained by linear theory and appears as a purely numerical result that is not well understood. This type of turbulence is also related to the possibility of having a dynamo action in accretion discs, which may help to generate the large-scale magnetic field required by ejection processes.
Aims. We look for a nonlinear mechanism able to explain the persistence of MHD turbulence in shearing boxes with zero net magnetic flux, and potentially leading to large-scale dynamo action.
Methods. Spectral nonlinear simulations of the magnetorotational instability are shown to exhibit a large-scale axisymmetric magnetic field, maintained for a few orbits. The generation process of this field is investigated using the results of the simulations and an inhomogeneous linear approach. We show that quasilinear nonaxisymmetric waves may provide a positive back-reaction on the large-scale field when a weak inhomogeneous azimuthal field is present, explaining the behaviour of the simulations. We finally reproduce the dynamo cycles using a simple closure model summarising our linear results.
Results. The mechanism by which turbulence is sustained in zero-net-flux shearing boxes is shown to be related to the existence of a large-scale azimuthal field, surviving for several orbits. In particular, it is shown that MHD turbulence in shearing boxes can be seen as a dynamo process coupled to a magnetorotational-type instability.
Key words: accretion, accretion disks -- magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) -- turbulence
© ESO 2008