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Title: Understanding Accretion Disks through Three Dimensional Radiation MHD Simulations
Authors: Jiang, Yanfei
Advisors: Stone, James M.
Contributors: Astrophysical Sciences Department
Keywords: accretion disks
methods: numerical
radiative transfer
Subjects: Astrophysics
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: I study the structures and thermal properties of black hole accretion disks in the radiation pressure dominated regime. Angular momentum transfer in the disk is provided by the turbulence generated by the magneto-rotational instability (MRI), which is calculated self-consistently with a recently developed 3D radiation magneto-hydrodynamics (MHD) code based on Athena. This code, developed by my collaborators and myself, couples both the radiation momentum and energy source terms with the ideal MHD equations by modifying the standard Godunov method to handle the stiff radiation source terms. We solve the two momentum equations of the radiation transfer equations with a variable Eddington tensor (VET), which is calculated with a time independent short characteristic module. This code is well tested and accurate in both optically thin and optically thick regimes. It is also accurate for both radiation pressure and gas pressure dominated flows. With this code, I find that when photon viscosity becomes significant, the ratio between Maxwell stress and Reynolds stress from the MRI turbulence can increase significantly with radiation pressure. The thermal instability of the radiation pressure dominated disk is then studied with vertically stratified shearing box simulations. Unlike the previous results claiming that the radiation pressure dominated disk with MRI turbulence can reach a steady state without showing any unstable behavior, I find that the radiation pressure dominated disks always either collapse or expand until we have to stop the simulations. During the thermal runaway, the heating and cooling rates from the simulations are consistent with the general criterion of thermal instability. However, details of the thermal runaway are different from the predictions of the standard alpha disk model, as many assumptions in that model are not satisfied in the simulations. We also identify the key reasons why previous simulations do not find the instability. The thermal instability has many important implications for understanding the observations of both X-ray binaries and Active Galactic Nuclei (AGNs). However, direct comparisons between observations and the simulations require global radiation MHD simulations, which will be the main focus of my future work.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Astrophysical Sciences

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