General relativistic MHD simulations of black hole accretion disks and jets
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Accretion disks orbiting black holes power high-energy systems such as X-ray binaries and Active Galactic Nuclei. Observations are providing increasingly detailed quantitative information about such systems. This data has been interpreted using standard toy-models that rely on simplifying assumptions such as regular flow geometry and a parameterized stress. Global numerical simulations offer a way to investigate the basic physical dynamics of accretion flows without these assumptions and, in principle, lead to a genuinely predictive theory. In recent years we have developed a fully three-dimensional general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic simulation code that evolves time-dependent inflows into Kerr black holes. Although the resulting global simulations of black hole accretion are still somewhat simplified, they have brought to light a number of interesting results. These include the formation of electro-magnetically dominated jets powered by the black hole’s rotation, and the presence of strong stresses in the plunging region of the accretion flow. The observational consequences of these features are gradually being examined. Increasing computer power and increasingly sophisticated algorithms promise a bright future for the computational approach to black hole accretion.
KeywordsBlack holes Magnetohydrodynamics Stars: accretion
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