A unifying picture of helical and azimuthal magnetrotational instability, and the universal significance of the Liu limit

Oleg Kirillov, Frank Stefani, Yasuhide Fukumoto

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Abstract

The magnetorotational instability (MRI) plays a key role for cosmic structure formation by triggering turbulence in the rotating flows of accretion disks that would be otherwise hydrodynamically stable. In the limit of small magnetic Prandtl number, the helical and the azimuthal versions of MRI are known to be governed by a quite different scaling behavior than the standard MRI with a vertical applied magnetic field. Using the short-wavelength approximation for an incompressible, resistive, and viscous rotating fluid, we present a unified description of helical and azimuthal MRI, and we identify the universal character of the Liu limit for the critical Rossby number. From this universal behavior we are also led to the prediction that the instability will be governed by a mode with an azimuthal wavenumber that is proportional to the ratio of axial to azimuthal applied magnetic field, when this ratio becomes large and the Rossby number is close to the Liu limit.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Volume756
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2012

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