Magnetorotational Turbulence and Dynamo in a Collisionless Plasma

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Abstract

We present results from the first 3D kinetic numerical simulation of magnetorotational turbulence and dynamo, using the local shearing-box model of a collisionless accretion disk. The kinetic magnetorotational instability grows from a subthermal magnetic field having zero net flux over the computational domain to generate self-sustained turbulence and outward angular-momentum transport. Significant Maxwell and Reynolds stresses are accompanied by comparable viscous stresses produced by field-aligned ion pressure anisotropy, which is regulated primarily by the mirror and ion-cyclotron instabilities through particle trapping and pitch-angle scattering. The latter endow the plasma with an effective viscosity that is biased with respect to the magnetic-field direction and spatiotemporally variable. Energy spectra suggest an Alfvén-wave cascade at large scales and a kinetic-Alfvén-wave cascade at small scales, with strong small-scale density fluctuations and weak nonaxisymmetric density waves. Ions undergo nonthermal particle acceleration, their distribution accurately described by a κ distribution. These results have implications for the properties of low-collisionality accretion flows, such as that near the black hole at the Galactic center.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number235101
JournalPhysical review letters
Volume117
Issue number23
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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