Journal Article

General relativistic magnetohydrodynamic simulations of magnetically choked accretion flows around black holes

Jonathan C. McKinney, Alexander Tchekhovskoy and Roger D. Blandford

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 423, issue 4, pages 3083-3117
Published in print July 2012 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online July 2012 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
General relativistic magnetohydrodynamic simulations of magnetically choked accretion flows around black holes

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Black hole (BH) accretion flows and jets are qualitatively affected by the presence of ordered magnetic fields. We study fully 3D global general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulations of radially extended and thick (height H-to-cylindrical radius R ratio of |H/R| ∼ 0.2–1) accretion flows around BHs with various dimensionless spins (a/M, with BH mass M) and with initially toroidally dominated (φ-directed) and poloidally dominated (Rz directed) magnetic fields. First, for toroidal field models and BHs with high enough |a/M|, coherent large-scale (i.e. ≫H) dipolar poloidal magnetic flux patches emerge, thread the BH, and generate transient relativistic jets. Second, for poloidal field models, poloidal magnetic flux readily accretes through the disc from large radii and builds up to a natural saturation point near the BH. While models with |H/R| ∼ 1 and |a/M| ≤ 0.5 do not launch jets due to quenching by mass infall, for sufficiently high |a/M| or low |H/R| the polar magnetic field compresses the inflow into a geometrically thin highly non-axisymmetric ‘magnetically choked accretion flow’ (MCAF) within which the standard linear magnetorotational instability is suppressed. The condition of a highly magnetized state over most of the horizon is optimal for the Blandford–Znajek mechanism which generates persistent relativistic jets with ≳100 per cent efficiency for |a/M| ≳ 0.9. A magnetic Rayleigh–Taylor and Kelvin–Helmholtz unstable magnetospheric interface forms between the compressed inflow and bulging jet magnetosphere, which drives a new jet–disc quasi-periodic oscillation (JD-QPO) mechanism. The high-frequency QPO has spherical harmonic |m| = 1 mode period of τ∼ 70GM/c3 for a/M∼ 0.9 with coherence quality factors Q≳ 10. Overall, our models are qualitatively distinct from most prior MHD simulations (typically, |H/R| ≪ 1 and poloidal flux is limited by initial conditions), so they should prove useful for testing accretion-jet theories and measuring a/M in systems such as SgrA* and M87.

Keywords: accretion, accretion discs; black hole physics; gravitation; hydrodynamics; MHD; methods: numerical

Journal Article.  24734 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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