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Angular Momentum Transport in Thin Magnetically Arrested Disks
by Megan D. Marshall, Mark J. Avara, Jonathan C. McKinney
Published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 478, 1837–1843 (Sunday, May 7, 2017)


In accretion disks with large-scale ordered magnetic fields, the magnetorotational instability (MRI) is marginally suppressed, so other processes may drive angular momentum transport leading to accretion. Accretion could then be driven by large-scale magnetic fields via magnetic braking, and large-scale magnetic flux can build-up onto the black hole and within the disk leading to a magnetically-arrested disk (MAD). Such a MAD state is unstable to the magnetic Rayleigh-Taylor (RT) instability, which itself leads to vigorous turbulence and the emergence of low-density highly-magnetized bubbles. This instability was studied in a thin (ratio of half-height H to radius R, H/R ≈ 0.1) MAD simulation, where it has a more dramatic effect on the dynamics of the disk than for thicker disks. Large amounts of flux are pushed off the black hole into the disk, leading to temporary decreases in stress, then this flux is reprocessed as the stress increases again. Throughout this process, we find that the dominant component of the stress is due to turbulent magnetic fields, despite the suppression of the axisymmetric MRI and the dominant presence of large-scale magnetic fields. This suggests that the magnetic RT instability plays a significant role in driving angular momentum transport in MADs.

CCRG Authors

Avara, Mark