Unstable magnetohydrodynamical continuous spectrum of accretion disks
A new route to magnetohydrodynamical turbulence in accretion disks
FOM-Institute for Plasma Physics “Rijnhuizen”, Association Euratom-FOM, Trilateral Euregio Cluster, PO Box 1207, 3430 BE Nieuwegein, The Netherlands e-mail: J-W.S.Blokland@Rijnhuizen.nl
2 Centre for Plasma Astrophysics, K.U. Leuven, Belgium
3 Astronomical Institute, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Accepted: 25 February 2007
Context.We present a detailed study of localised magnetohydrodynamical (MHD) instabilities occurring in two-dimensional magnetized accretion disks.
Aims.We model axisymmetric MHD disk tori, and solve the equations governing a two-dimensional magnetized accretion disk equilibrium and linear wave modes about this equilibrium. We show the existence of novel MHD instabilities in these two-dimensional equilibria which do not occur in an accretion disk in the cylindrical limit.
Methods.The disk equilibria are numerically computed by the FINESSE code. The stability of accretion disks is investigated analytically as well as numerically. We use the PHOENIX code to compute all the waves and instabilities accessible to the computed disk equilibrium.
Results.We concentrate on strongly magnetized disks and sub-Keplerian rotation in a large part of the disk. These disk equilibria show that the thermal pressure of the disk can only decrease outwards if there is a strong gravitational potential. Our theoretical stability analysis shows that convective continuum instabilities can only appear if the density contours coincide with the poloidal magnetic flux contours. Our numerical results confirm and complement this theoretical analysis. Furthermore, these results show that the influence of gravity can either be stabilizing or destabilizing on this new kind of MHD instability. In the likely case of a non-constant density, the height of the disk should exceed a threshold before this type of instability can play a role.
Conclusions.This localised MHD instability provides an ideal, linear route to MHD turbulence in strongly magnetized accretion disk tori.
Key words: accretion, accretion disks / instabilities / magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) / plasmas
© ESO, 2007