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Where Is the Inner Edge of an Accretion Disk around a Black Hole? Astrophys

By Julian H. Krolik and John F. Hawley


What is meant by the “inner edge ” of an accretion disk around a black hole depends on the property that defines the edge. We discuss four such definitions using data from recent high-resolution numerical simulations. These are: the “turbulence edge”, where flux-freezing becomes more important than turbulence in determining the magnetic field structure; the “stress edge”, where plunging matter loses dynamical contact with the outer accretion flow; the “reflection edge”, the smallest radius capable of producing significant X-ray reflection features; and the “radiation edge”, the innermost place from which significant luminosity emerges. All these edges are dependent on the accretion rate and are non-axisymmetric and time-variable. Although all are generally located in the vicinity of the marginally stable orbit, significant displacements can occur, and data interpretations placing the disk edge precisely at this point can be misleading. If observations are to be used successfully as diagnostics of accretion in strong gravity, the models used to interpret them must take careful account of these distinctions. Subject headings: accretion, accretion disks, instabilities, MHD, black hole physics 1

Year: 2013
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