A magnetohydrodynamic nonradiative accretion flow in three dimensions

John F. Hawley, Steven A. Balbus, James McLellan Stone

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We present a global magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) three-dimensional simulation of a nonradiative accretion flow originating in a pressure-supported torus. The evolution is controlled by the magnetorotational instability, which produces turbulence. The flow forms a nearly Keplerian disk. The total pressure scale height in this disk is comparable to the vertical size of the initial torus. Gas pressure dominates near the equator; magnetic pressure is more important in the surrounding atmosphere. A magnetically dominated bound outflow is driven from the disk. The accretion rate through the disk exceeds the final rate into the hole, and a hot torus forms inside 10rg. Hot gas, pushed up against the centrifugal barrier and confined by magnetic pressure, is ejected in a narrow, unbound, conical outflow. The dynamics are controlled by magnetic turbulence, not thermal convection, and a hydrodynamic α-model is inadequate to describe the flow. The limitations of two-dimensional MHD simulations are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L49-L52
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART 2
StatePublished - Jun 10 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Accretion, accretion disks
  • Black hole physics
  • Instabilities
  • MHD


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