Journal Article

Weakly non-linear stability of a hydrodynamic accretion disc

S. R. Rajesh

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 414, issue 1, pages 691-701
Published in print June 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online June 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Weakly non-linear stability of a hydrodynamic accretion disc

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When the cold accretion disc coupling between neutral gas and a magnetic field is so weak that the magnetorotational instability is less effective or even stops working, it is of prime interest to investigate the pure hydrodynamic origin of turbulence and transport phenomena. As the Reynolds number increases, the relative importance of the non-linear term in the hydrodynamic equation increases. In an accretion disc where the molecular viscosity is too small, the Reynolds number is large enough for the non-linear term to have new effects. We investigate the scenario of the ‘weakly non-linear’ evolution of the amplitude of the linear mode when the flow is bounded by two parallel walls. The unperturbed flow is similar to the plane Couette flow, but with the Coriolis force included in the hydrodynamic equation. Although there is no exponentially growing eigenmode, because of the self-interaction, the least stable eigenmode will grow in an intermediate phase. Later, this will lead to higher-order non-linearity and plausible turbulence. Although the non-linear term in the hydrodynamic equation is energy-conserving, within the weakly non-linear analysis it is possible to define a lower bound of the energy (∝A2c, where Ac is the threshold amplitude) needed for the flow to transform to the turbulent phase. Such an unstable phase is possible only if the Reynolds number ≥103−4. The numerical difficulties in obtaining such a large Reynolds number might be the reason for the negative result of numerical simulations on a pure hydrodynamic Keplerian accretion disc.

Keywords: accretion, accretion discs; hydrodynamics; instabilities; turbulence

Journal Article.  5457 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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