Corotational instability of inertial-acoustic modes in black hole accretion discs: non-barotropic flows

David Tsang, Dong Lai

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18 Citations (SciVal)


We study the effect of corotation resonance on the inertial-acoustic oscillations (p-modes) of black hole accretion discs. Previous works have shown that for barotropic flows (where the pressure depends only on the density), wave absorption at the corotation resonance can lead to mode growth when the disc vortensity, ζ = κ2/(2ΩΣ) (where Ω, κ, Σ are the rotation rate, radial epicyclic frequency and surface density of the disc, respectively), has a positive gradient at the corotation radius. Here, we generalize the analysis of the corotation resonance effect to non-barotropic fluids. We show that the mode instability criterion is modified by the finite radial Brunt-Väisälä frequency of the disc. We derive an analytic expression for the reflectivity when a density wave impinges upon the corotation barrier, and calculate the frequencies and growth rates of global p-modes for disc models with various α-viscosity parametrizations. We find that for disc fluids with constant adiabatic index Γ, super-reflection and mode growth depend on the gradient of the effective vortensity, ζeff = ζ/S2/Γ (where S ≡ P/ΣΓ measures the entropy): when dζeff/dr > 0 at the corotation radius, wave absorption leads to amplification of the p-mode. Our calculations show that the lowest order p-modes with azimuthal wave number m = 2, 3, 4, ... have the largest growth rates, with the frequencies approximately in (but distinct from) the 2:3:4... commensurate ratios. We discuss the implications of our results for the high-frequency quasi-periodic oscillations observed in accreting black hole systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)470-479
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2009


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