Hydrodynamical non-radiative accretion flows in two dimensions

James McLellan Stone, James E. Pringle, Mitchell C. Begelman

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Two-dimensional (axially symmetric) numerical hydrodynamical calculations of accretion flows that cannot cool through emission of radiation are presented. The calculations begin from an equilibrium configuration consisting of a thick torus with constant specific angular momentum. Accretion is induced by the addition of a small anomalous azimuthal shear stress which is characterized by a function v. We study the flows generated as the amplitude and form of v are varied. A spherical polar grid which spans more than two orders of magnitude in radius is used to resolve the flow over a wide range of spatial scales. We find that convection in the inner regions produces significant outward mass motions that carry away both the energy liberated by and a large fraction of the mass participating in the accretion flow. Although the instantaneous structure of the flow is complex and dominated by convective eddies, long-time averages of the dynamical variables show remarkable correspondence to certain steady-state solutions. The two-dimensional structure of the time-averaged flow is marginally stable to the Høiland criterion, indicating that convection is efficient. Near the equatorial plane, the radial profiles of the time-averaged variables are power laws with an index that depends on the radial scaling of the shear stress. A stress in which v ∝ r1/2 recovers the widely studied self-similar solution corresponding to an 'α-disc'. We find that, regardless of the adiabatic index of the gas, or the form or magnitude of the shear stress, the mass inflow rate is a strongly increasing function of radius, and is everywhere nearly exactly balanced by mass outflow. The net mass accretion rate through the disc is only a fraction of the rate at which mass is supplied to the inflow at large radii, and is given by the local, viscous accretion rate associated with the flow properties near the central object.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1002-1016
Number of pages15
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 21 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Accretion, accretion discs
  • Black hole physics
  • Hydrodynamics


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