Impact of convection and resistivity on angular momentum transport in dwarf novae
1 Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, Institut de Planétologie et d’Astrophysique de Grenoble (IPAG), 38000 Grenoble, France
2 Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91109, USA
Received: 5 September 2017
Accepted: 16 October 2017
The eruptive cycles of dwarf novae are thought to be due to a thermal-viscous instability in the accretion disk surrounding the white dwarf. This model has long been known to imply enhanced angular momentum transport in the accretion disk during outburst. This is measured by the stress to pressure ratio α, with α ≈ 0.1 required in outburst compared to α ≈ 0.01 in quiescence. Such an enhancement in α has recently been observed in simulations of turbulent transport driven by the magneto-rotational instability (MRI) when convection is present, without requiring a net magnetic flux. We independently recover this result by carrying out PLUTO magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulations of vertically stratified, radiative, shearing boxes with the thermodynamics and opacities appropriate to dwarf novae. The results are robust against the choice of vertical boundary conditions. The thermal equilibrium solutions found by the simulations trace the well-known S-curve in the density-temperature plane that constitutes the core of the disk thermal-viscous instability model. We confirm that the high values of α ≈ 0.1 occur near the tip of the hot branch of the S-curve, where convection is active. However, we also present thermally stable simulations at lower temperatures that have standard values of α ≈ 0.03 despite the presence of vigorous convection. We find no simple relationship between α and the strength of the convection, as measured by the ratio of convective to radiative flux. The cold branch is only very weakly ionized so, in the second part of this work, we studied the impact of non-ideal MHD effects on transport. Ohmic dissipation is the dominant effect in the conditions of quiescent dwarf novae. We include resistivity in the simulations and find that the MRI-driven transport is quenched (α ≈ 0) below the critical density at which the magnetic Reynolds number Rm ≤ 104. This is problematic because the X-ray emission observed in quiescent systems requires ongoing accretion onto the white dwarf. We verify that these X-rays cannot self-sustain MRI-driven turbulence by photo-ionizing the disk and discuss possible solutions to the issue of accretion in quiescence.
Key words: accretion, accretion disks / convection / magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) / turbulence / stars: dwarf novae
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