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MRI turbulence in accretion discs at large magnetic Prandtl numbers

Held, L.; Mamatsashvili, G.

The effect of large magnetic Prandtl number Pm (the ratio of viscosity to resistivity) on the turbulent transport and energetics of the magnetorotational instability (MRI) is poorly understood, despite the realization of this regime in astrophysical environments as disparate as discs from binary neutron star (BNS) mergers, the inner regions of low-mass X-ray binaries and active galactic nuclei, and the interiors of protoneutron stars. We investigate the MRI dynamo and associated turbulence in the regime Pm > 1 by carrying out fully compressible, 3D MHD-shearing box simulations using the finite-volume code PLUTO, focusing mostly on the case of Keplerian shear relevant to accretion discs. We find that when the magnetic Reynolds number is kept fixed, the turbulent transport (as parameterized by α, the ratio of stress to thermal pressure) scales with the magnetic Prandtl number as $α ~ Pm^δ$, with $δ ~ 0.5-0.7$ up to $Pm ~ 128$. However, this scaling weakens as the magnetic Reynolds number is increased. Importantly, compared to previous studies, we find a new effect at very large Pm - the turbulent energy and stress begin to plateau, no longer depending on Pm. To understand these results we have carried out a detailed analysis of the turbulent dynamics in Fourier space, focusing on the effect of increasing Pm on the transverse cascade - a key non-linear process induced by the disc shear flow that is responsible for the sustenance of MRI turbulence. Finally, we find that α-Pm scaling is sensitive to the box vertical-to-radial aspect ratio, as well as to the background shear.

Keywords: accretion; accretion discs; instabilities; MHD; turbulence

  • Open Access Logo Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 517(2022)2, 2309-2330
    Online First (2022) DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stac2656
    arXiv: 2206.00497

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Permalink: https://www.hzdr.de/publications/Publ-35565
Publ.-Id: 35565