Misaligned Accretion and Jet Production
journal contributionposted on 03.05.2018, 10:32 by Andrew King, Chris Nixon
Disk accretion onto a black hole is often misaligned from its spin axis. If the disk maintains a significant magnetic field normal to its local plane, we show that dipole radiation from Lense–Thirring precessing disk annuli can extract a significant fraction of the accretion energy, sharply peaked toward small disk radii R (as R −17/2 for fields with constant equipartition ratio). This low-frequency emission is immediately absorbed by surrounding matter or refracted toward the regions of lowest density. The resultant mechanical pressure, dipole angular pattern, and much lower matter density toward the rotational poles create a strong tendency to drive jets along the black hole spin axis, similar to the spin-axis jets of radio pulsars, also strong dipole emitters. The coherent primary emission may explain the high brightness temperatures seen in jets. The intrinsic disk emission is modulated at Lense–Thirring frequencies near the inner edge, providing a physical mechanism for low-frequency quasi-periodic oscillations (QPOs). Dipole emission requires nonzero hole spin, but uses only disk accretion energy. No spin energy is extracted, unlike the Blandford–Znajek process. Magnetohydrodynamic/general-relativistic magnetohydrodynamic (MHD/GRMHD) formulations do not directly give radiation fields, but can be checked post-process for dipole emission and therefore self-consistency, given sufficient resolution. Jets driven by dipole radiation should be more common in active galactic nuclei (AGN) than in X-ray binaries, and in low accretion-rate states than high, agreeing with observation. In non-black hole accretion, misaligned disk annuli precess because of the accretor's mass quadrupole moment, similarly producing jets and QPOs.