Stability of general-relativistic accretion disks

Oleg Korobkin, Ernazar B. Abdikamalov, Erik Schnetter, Nikolaos Stergioulas, Burkhard Zink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Self-gravitating relativistic disks around black holes can form as transient structures in a number of astrophysical scenarios such as binary neutron star and black hole-neutron star coalescences, as well as the core collapse of massive stars. We explore the stability of such disks against runaway and nonaxisymmetric instabilities using three-dimensional hydrodynamics simulations in full general relativity using the Thor code. We model the disk matter using the ideal fluid approximation with a Γ-law equation of state with Γ=4/3. We explore three disk models around nonrotating black holes with disk-to-black hole mass ratios of 0.24, 0.17, and 0.11. Because of metric blending in our initial data, all of our initial models contain an initial axisymmetric perturbation which induces radial disk oscillations. Despite these oscillations, our models do not develop the runaway instability during the first several orbital periods. Instead, all of the models develop unstable nonaxisymmetric modes on a dynamical time scale. We observe two distinct types of instabilities: the Papaloizou-Pringle and the so-called intermediate type instabilities. The development of the nonaxisymmetric mode with azimuthal number m=1 is accompanied by an outspiraling motion of the black hole, which significantly amplifies the growth rate of the m=1 mode in some cases. Overall, our simulations show that the properties of the unstable nonaxisymmetric modes in our disk models are qualitatively similar to those in the Newtonian theory.

Original languageEnglish
Article number043007
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 18 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)

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