AbstractsAstronomy & Space Science

Magnetohydrodynamics of Accretion Disks in Cataclysmic Variables

by Wenhua Ju

Institution: Princeton University
Year: 2016
Keywords: accretion disks; cataclysmic variable; dwarf novae; magnetohydrodynamics
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2069353
Full text PDF: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp017s75df84b


Angular momentum transport in the accretion disks of cataclysmic variables (CVs) is a crucial ingredient of driving the evolution of CVs and is believed to account for the observed episodic outbursts in dwarf novae. However, the physical mechanisms of driving angular momentum transport in CV disks are not well understood yet. In this thesis, the angular momentum transport driven by the spiral shocks and the magnetorotational instability (MRI) is thoroughly studied using a series of global hydrodynamical and magnetohydrodynamical (MHD) simulations conducted with Athena++. Spiral shocks are a possible accretion mechanism in cold quiescence state when the CV disk may be too cool and neutral for the MRI to operate. We perform global two-dimensional hydrodynamical simulations where we found mass accretion is driven by deposition of negative angular momentum carried by the waves through shock dissipation. The effective viscosity parameter alpha_eff is 0.02–0.05 when the disk Mach number is < 10. Spiral shocks are found very sensitive to the size and Mach number of the disk: they are stronger with larger disk sizes or lower Mach numbers. We also apply the spiral shock analysis to circumplanetary disks (CPDs) and found spiral shocks can contribute significantly to the angular momentum transport and energy dissipation in CPDs yielding alpha_eff ∼0.001−0.02. In hot outburst state the CV disk is ionized so MRI and spiral shocks both drive angular momentum transport. We perform global three-dimensional MHD simulations of CV disks to investigate the relative importance of spiral shocks and MRI. Our steady-state solutions indicate that the relative importance in driving angular momentum transport of spiral shocks and MRI is mostly determined by the gas Mach number and the seed magnetic field strength, and is independent of the seed field geometry. While the mass accretion rate in steady-state disks is always equal to the mass supply rate, the steady-state αeff is larger when the seed magnetic field has vertical components or the flow has stronger magnetization. Advisors/Committee Members: Stone, James M (advisor).