Convection-dominated accretion flows

Eliot Quataert, Andrei Gruzinov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

328 Scopus citations


Nonradiating advection-dominated accretion flows are convectively unstable in the radial direction. We calculate the two-dimensional (r-θ) structure of such flows assuming that (1) convection transports angular momentum inward, opposite to normal viscosity, and (2) viscous transport by other mechanisms (e.g., magnetic fields) is weak (α ≪ 1). Under such conditions convection dominates the dynamics of the accretion flow and leads to a steady state structure that is marginally stable to convection. We show that the marginally stable flow has a constant temperature and rotational velocity on spherical shells, a net flux of energy from small to large radii, zero net accretion rate, and a radial density profile of ρ ∝ r-1/2, flatter than the ρ ∝ r-3/2 profile characteristic of spherical accretion flows. This solution accurately describes the full two-dimensional structure of recent axisymmetric numerical simulations of advection-dominated accretion flows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)809-814
Number of pages6
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 PART 1
StatePublished - Aug 20 2000
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Accretion, accretion disks
  • Convection
  • Hydrodynamics


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