Local axisymmetric simulations of magnetorotational instability in radiation-dominated accretion disks

N. J. Turner, James McLellan Stone, T. Sano

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51 Scopus citations


We perform numerical simulations of magnetorotational instability in a local patch of accretion disk in which radiation pressure exceeds gas pressure. Such conditions may occur in the central regions of disks surrounding compact objects in active galactic nuclei and Galactic X-ray sources. We assume axisymmetry and neglect vertical stratification. The growth rates of the instability on initially uniform magnetic fields are consistent with the linear analysis of Blaes & Socrates (2001). As is the case when radiation effects are neglected, the nonlinear development of the instability leads to transitory turbulence when the initial magnetic field has no net vertical flux. During the turbulent phase, angular momentum is transported outward. The Maxwell stress is a few times the Reynolds stress, and their sum is about 4 times the mean pressure in the vertical component of the magnetic field. For magnetic pressure exceeding gas pressure, turbulent fluctuations in the field produce density contrasts about equal to the ratio of magnetic to gas pressure. These are many times larger than in the corresponding gas pressure-dominated situation and may have profound implications for the steady state vertical structure of radiation-dominated disks. Diffusion of radiation from compressed regions damps turbulent motions, converting kinetic energy into photon energy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-163
Number of pages16
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Feb 10 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Accretion, accretion disks
  • Instabilities
  • MHD
  • Radiative transfer


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