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ASTM003 Angular Momentum and Accretion Lecture 4 of 11 (QMUL), astronomy, astrophysics, cosmology, general relativity, quantum mechanics, physics, university degree, lecture notes, physical sciences
4 Lecture 4
4.1 Steady State Disc Theory
In the case of a steady state we have ∂Σ/∂t = 0 in equations (74) and (75), at all
points in the accretion disc.
Mass will ﬂow inwards through the disc at a rate ˙ m
d
(mass per unit time) as angular
momentum is transported outwards. Considering mass conservation we have that
˙ m
d
= −2πRΣv
R
(79)
which is the rate of mass ﬂow through a circle of radius R, and is a solut

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You are on page 1of 6

In the case of a steady state we have /t = 0 in equations (74) and (75), at all

points in the accretion disc.

Mass will ow inwards through the disc at a rate m

d

(mass per unit time) as angular

momentum is transported outwards. Considering mass conservation we have that

m

d

= 2Rv

R

(79)

which is the rate of mass ow through a circle of radius R, and is a solution to the

time-independent continuity equation (72).

From equation (69) we have that

v

R

j

R

=

1

R

R

3

d

dR

(80)

where we have used j = R

2

. Substituting equation (79) into equation (80) we obtain

m

d

2

j

R

=

R

R

3

d

dR

(81)

Consider the steadystate diusion equation from (74), with j = R

2

,

1

R

j

R

R

3

d

dR

= 0 . (82)

Integrating once gives

R

3

d

dR

= C

j

R

=

m

d

2

j

R

(83)

where we have used equation (81) to evaluate the constant of integration, C. Integrat-

ing equation (83) gives

2R

3

d

dR

= m

d

j + D , (84)

where D is a constant of integration.

D is usually calculated by considering the disc close to the star. In particular, we note

that if the disc is to join onto a non rotating, or slowly rotating star, then at a position

close to the star d/dR = 0, such that no viscous stresses act at this point.

If we call R

max

the value of R where d/dR = 0, Equation (84) becomes at this

position

D = m

d

R

2

max

(R

max

) . (85)

If we assume that the disc is in Keplerian rotation at positions R R

max

then we

have (R) =

GM

R

3/2

, d/dR = 3

GM

R

5/2

/2, and (R

max

) =

GM

R

3/2

max

,

31

R

R

3/2

d/ dR = 0

R

Non rotating

star

*

where M

therefore obtain the expression

=

m

d

3

R

max

R

1/2

(86)

However, the value R

max

of the R coordinate where the angular velocity is a maxi-

mum is close to the radius of the star, R

. So we shall approximate R

max

R

. We

therefore get

D = m

d

R

2

(R

) (87)

and so =

m

d

3

1/2

(88)

by inserting (87) into (84). Convince yourself that this is true by obtaining equation

(88).

4.2 Energy Production

We have a steady state solution for , but we are interested in accretion discs as

a source of energy production since ultimately we observe radiation that is emitted

from the disc surface. Energy production occurs via viscous dissipation. We will now

consider the rate of energy production due to viscous dissipation in an accretion disc.

The Navier-Stokes equation is

dv

i

dt

=

1

ij

x

j

(89)

where

ij

= P

ij

+

v

i

x

j

+

v

j

x

i

2

3

.v

ij

. (90)

ij

is known as the stress tensor. The rst term on the r.h.s. of equation (90) is due

to the thermal pressure, and the remaining terms that are proportional to the velocity

gradients are due to the viscous stresses acting in the uid. We have used sux

notation where the subscripts i, j refer to the coordinate directions (e.g. in Cartesian

coordinates v

1

v

x

, v

2

v

y

, v

3

v

z

). Each component of

ij

refers to the force per

32

unit area acting in the direction i on a surface in the uid whose normal points in the

j direction.

We will just consider the viscous part of the stress tensor, so that equation (89)

becomes

dv

i

dt

=

1

ij

x

j

(91)

where

ij

=

v

i

x

j

+

v

j

x

i

2

3

.v

ij

. (92)

To get the change in kinetic energy from equation (91) we take the dot product with

v

i

:

v

i

dv

i

dt

=

d

dt

1

2

v

2

i

=

1

v

i

x

j

ij

(93)

from which we obtain

d

dt

1

2

v

2

i

= v

i

x

j

ij

=

x

j

v

i

ij

ij

v

i

x

j

. (94)

The rst term on the r.h.s. of equation (94) is due to the action of viscosity/friction

transferring momentum from one region of the uid to another. There is a correspond-

ing transfer of kinetic energy associated with this momentum transfer. The second

term on the r.h.s of equation (94) is the rate of viscous dissipation per unit volume,

and gives the rate at which the viscous forces remove kinetic energy from the system

and convert it into heat/internal energy.

The rate of viscous dissipation per unit volume may be expressed as

ij

v

i

x

j

=

1

2

ij

v

i

x

j

+

ji

v

j

x

i

=

1

2

ij

v

i

x

j

+

v

j

x

i

(95)

because

ij

is symmetric with respect to i and j (see equation (92)).

If we assume that .v = 0 (as is the case here, as can be seen from the continuity

equation (9) for = constant) then we can write

1

2

ij

v

i

x

j

+

v

j

x

i

=

1

2

v

i

x

j

+

v

j

x

i

v

i

x

j

+

v

j

x

i

= 2e

ij

e

ij

(96)

where

e

ij

=

1

2

v

i

x

j

+

v

j

x

i

is the rate of strain tensor. In writing equation (96) we have used = . To obtain

the viscous dissipation per unit area we must integrate equation (96) vertically through

the disc

D

=

2 e

ij

e

ij

dz = R

2

d

dR

2

(97)

33

where we have evaluated e

ij

for the velocity eld v = v

= R e

, where e

is

the unit vector in the direction. For a Keplerian disc in a steady state d/dR =

(3)/(2R), giving

D

=

9

4

2

. (98)

We have now seen that the rate of heat generation in the disc due to viscous dissipation

of kinetic energy is given by

D

=

9

4

2

. (99)

Combining (99) and equation (88) we obtain the expression

D

=

9

4

2

=

3

4

m

d

1/2

GM

R

3

. (100)

The ux of radiation from an optically thick disc radiating as a black body is given by

F = 2T

4

eff

(101)

where the factor of 2 arises because the disc radiates from two sides. In a steady-state,

the energy dissipated = energy radiated, so equating expression (101) and (100) gives

an equation for the eective temperature as a function of radius

T

eff

=

3GM m

d

8R

3

1/2

1/4

(102)

Note that this expression is independent of the kinematic viscosity , indicating that

the temperature in an accretion disc is not sensitive to the physical process that

generates the viscosity, but only on the rate of mass ow through the disc that arises

because of it.

To make estimates of the temperature in accretion discs, we will ignore R

(since it is

usually small), so that

T

eff

3GM m

d

8R

3

1/4

. (103)

Numerically we can write

T

eff

= 6.6 10

4

K

m

10

9

M

/yr

1/4

M

M

1/4

R

10

7

m

3/4

. (104)

Apply to C.V.s:

For R 10

7

m, M 1 M

, m 10

9

M

yr

1

, we obtain T 6 10

4

K, which is

typical of the values that apply to C.V.s. Most of the energy in this case is emitted in

the U.V.

Apply to Neutron Stars or Black Holes:

Here we take R 10

4

m. Note, however, in this case the accretion rate is limited by

the Eddington limit. During the process of accreting gas onto compact objects, the

34

gas may become very hot and radiation pressure will then be important. For mass

accretion rates, m, above a critical value (known as the Eddington limit), radiation

pressure dominates gravity, preventing further accretion. To obtain a simple estimate

of the Eddington limited accretion rate, consider the competition between radiation

pressure and gravity in a spherical cloud:

GM

r

2

1

dP

rad

dr

> 0 (105)

if radiation pressure beats gravity, where P

rad

= aT

4

/3. The luminosity is given by

L = 4r

2

F where the radiative ux, F, is given by

F =

4ac

3

T

3

dT

dr

=

c

d

dr

aT

4

3

. (106)

Thus we can write the luminosity as

L(r) =

4r

2

c

dP

rad

dr

(107)

and equation (105) becomes

GM

r

2

+

L

4cr

2

> 0 (108)

from which we get

L > 4c GM . (109)

The luminosity generated by mass accretion at a rate m, onto an object of mass M

and radius R is given by

L =

GM m

R

. (110)

If we take the radius R 5R

S

, where R

S

= 2GM/c

2

is the Schwarzschild radius, then

L = 0.1 mc

2

which combined with (109) gives

m =

4cGM

0.1c

2

=

40GM

c

.

For electron scattering opacity (which is dominant in a hot ionised plasma),

0.04 m

2

kg

1

from electrons in ionised hydrogen giving

m = 2 10

8

M yr

1

.

Taking this value, and R = 10

4

m in equation (104) gives T

eff

2.5 10

7

K for

M = 1M

Expect X-rays to be emitted.

35

Apply to Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN):

Take a massive black hole containing 10

8

M

, with R = 10

12

m (Schwarzschild

radius). Here we get T

eff

10

5

K, which is too low to explain the observed X-rays.

In this example, the model of a steady accretion disc with thermal emission does not

provide an accurate description of an AGN. It is probable that in this case much of

the energy is deposited in an optically thin corona above the disc from where it is

radiated (cf. the Suns corona).

Apply to Protostellar Discs:

Here we take m 10

8

M

yr

1

, and R 10

11

m ( 1 AU). This gives T

eff

100K,

so that we expect most of emission from protostellar discs to be emitted in the infra-red

(as observed).

Thus, we have shown that astrophysical discs display a broad range of temperature

environments, ranging between 10

2

and 10

7

K.

36

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