Hall Effect-Mediated Magnetic Flux Transport in Protoplanetary Disks

Xue Ning Bai, James McLellan Stone

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The global evolution of protoplanetary disks (PPDs) has recently been shown to be largely controlled by the amount of poloidal magnetic flux threading the disk. The amount of magnetic flux must also coevolve with the disk, as a result of magnetic flux transport, a process that is poorly understood. In weakly ionized gas as in PPDs, magnetic flux is largely frozen in the electron fluid, except when resistivity is large. When the disk is largely laminar, we show that the relative drift between the electrons and ions (the Hall drift), and the ions and neutral fluids (ambipolar drift) can play a dominant role on the transport of magnetic flux. Using two-dimensional simulations that incorporate the Hall effect and ambipolar diffusion (AD) with prescribed diffusivities, we show that when large-scale poloidal field is aligned with disk rotation, the Hall effect rapidly drags magnetic flux inward at the midplane region, while it slowly pushes flux outward above/below the midplane. This leads to a highly radially elongated field configuration as a global manifestation of the Hall-shear instability. This field configuration further promotes rapid outward flux transport by AD at the midplane, leading to instability saturation. In quasi-steady state, magnetic flux is transported outward at approximately the same rate at all heights, and the rate is comparable to the Hall-free case. For anti-aligned field polarity, the Hall effect consistently transports magnetic flux outward, leading to a largely vertical field configuration in the midplane region. The field lines in the upper layer first bend radially inward and then outward to launch a disk wind. Overall, the net rate of outward flux transport is about twice as fast as that of the aligned case. In addition, the rate of flux transport increases with increasing disk magnetization. The absolute rate of transport is sensitive to disk microphysics, which remains to be explored in future studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number46
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 10 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • accretion
  • accretion disks
  • magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
  • methods: numerical
  • planetary systems
  • protoplanetary disks


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