Angular momentum transport by acoustic modes generated in the boundary layer. II. magnetohydrodynamic simulations

Mikhail A. Belyaev, Roman R. Rafikov, James M. Stone

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20 Scopus citations


We perform global unstratified three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamic simulations of an astrophysical boundary layer (BL) - an interface region between an accretion disk and a weakly magnetized accreting object such as a white dwarf - with the goal of understanding the effects of magnetic field on the BL. We use cylindrical coordinates with an isothermal equation of state and investigate a number of initial field geometries including toroidal, vertical, and vertical with zero net flux. Our initial setup consists of a Keplerian disk attached to a non-rotating star. In a previous work, we found that in hydrodynamical simulations, sound waves excited by shear in the BL were able to efficiently transport angular momentum and drive mass accretion onto the star. Here we confirm that in MHD simulations, waves serve as an efficient means of angular momentum transport in the vicinity of the BL, despite the magnetorotational instability (MRI) operating in the disk. In particular, the angular momentum current due to waves is at times larger than the angular momentum current due to MRI. Our results suggest that angular momentum transport in the BL and its vicinity is a global phenomenon occurring through dissipation of waves and shocks. This point of view is quite different from the standard picture of transport by a local anomalous turbulent viscosity. In addition to angular momentum transport, we also study magnetic field amplification within the BL. We find that the field is indeed amplified in the BL, but only by a factor of a few, and remains subthermal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number68
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 10 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • accretion, accretion disks
  • instabilities
  • magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
  • waves


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