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Title: Neutral-charged-particle Collisions as the Mechanism for Accretion Disk Angular Momentum Transport

The matter in an accretion disk must lose angular momentum when moving radially inwards but how this works has long been a mystery. By calculating the trajectories of individual colliding neutrals, ions, and electrons in a weakly ionized 2D plasma containing gravitational and magnetic fields, we numerically simulate accretion disk dynamics at the particle level. As predicted by Lagrangian mechanics, the fundamental conserved global quantity is the total canonical angular momentum, not the ordinary angular momentum. When the Kepler angular velocity and the magnetic field have opposite polarity, collisions between neutrals and charged particles cause: (i) ions to move radially inwards, (ii) electrons to move radially outwards, (iii) neutrals to lose ordinary angular momentum, and (iv) charged particles to gain canonical angular momentum. Neutrals thus spiral inward due to their decrease of ordinary angular momentum while the accumulation of ions at small radius and accumulation of electrons at large radius produces a radially outward electric field. In 3D, this radial electric field would drive an out-of-plane poloidal current that produces the magnetic forces that drive bidirectional astrophysical jets. Because this neutral angular momentum loss depends only on neutrals colliding with charged particles, it should be ubiquitous. Quantitative scaling of more » the model using plausible disk density, temperature, and magnetic field strength gives an accretion rate of 3 × 10−8solar mass per year, which is in good agreement with observed accretion rates.

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Award ID(s):
2105492 1914599
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Article No. 167
DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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