Self-similar magnetocentrifugal disk winds with cylindrical asymptotics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


We construct a two-parameter family of models for self-collimated, magnetized outflows from accretion disks. As in previous magnetocentrifugal wind solutions, a flow at zero initial poloidal speed leaves the surface of a disk in Kepler rotation about a central star, and it is accelerated and redirected toward the pole by rotating, helical magnetic fields that thread the disk. At large distances from the disk, the flow streamlines asymptote to wrap around the surfaces of nested cylinders, with velocity v and magnetic field B directed in the axial (ẑ) and toroidal (φ̂) directions. In the asymptotic regime, the velocity secularly decreases with cylindrical radius R from the inside to the outside of the flow because successive stream-lines originate in the circumstellar disk in successively shallower portions of the stellar potential. In contrast to previous disk wind modeling, we have explicitly implemented the cylindrical asymptotic boundary condition to examine the consequences for flow dynamics. The present solutions are developed within the context of r-self-similar flows, such that v, the density ρ, and B scale with spherical radius r as v ∝ r-1/2, ρ ∝ r-q, and B ∝ r-(1+q)/2; q must be smaller than unity in order to achieve cylindrical collimation. We self-consistently obtain the shapes of magnetic field lines and the θ-dependence of all flow quantities. The solutions are characterized by q together with the ratios RA/R1 and R0/R1, where for a given streamline, R0 is the radius of its footpoint in the disk, RA is the cylindrical radius where the flow makes an Alfvén transition, and R1 is its final asymptotic cylindrical radius. For given q and R0/R1, RA/R1 must be found as an eigenvalue such that the Alfvén transition is made smoothly. In the solutions we have found, the asymptotic poloidal speed vz on any streamline is typically just a few tenths of the Kepler speed ΩR0 at the corresponding disk footpoint, while the asymptotic rotation speed vφ may be a few tenths to several tenths of ΩR0. The asymptotic toroidal Alfvén speed vA,φ = Bφ/(4πρ)1/2 is, however, a few times ΩR0; thus the outflows remain magnetically dominated, never making a fast-MHD transition. We discuss the implications of these models for interpretations of observed optical jets and molecular outflows from young stellar systems, and we suggest that the difficulty of achieving strong collimation in vector velocity simultaneously with a final speed comparable to ΩR0 argues against isolated jets and in favor of models with broader winds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-306
Number of pages16
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART I
StatePublished - 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Accretion, accretion disks
  • ISM: jets and outflows
  • MHD
  • Stars: pre-main-sequence


Dive into the research topics of 'Self-similar magnetocentrifugal disk winds with cylindrical asymptotics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this