Global evolution of the magnetic field in a thin disc and its consequences for protoplanetary systems [EPA]

The strength and structure of the large-scale magnetic field in protoplanetary discs are still unknown, although they could have important consequences for the dynamics and evolution of the disc. Using a mean-field approach in which we model the effects of turbulence through enhanced diffusion coefficients, we study the time-evolution of the large-scale poloidal magnetic field in a global model of a thin accretion disc, with particular attention to protoplanetary discs. With the transport coefficients usually assumed, the magnetic field strength does not significantly increase radially inwards, leading to a relatively weak magnetic field in the inner part of the disc. We show that with more realistic transport coefficients that take into account the vertical structure of the disc and the back-reaction of the magnetic field on the flow as obtained by Guilet & Ogilvie (2012), the magnetic field can significantly increase radially inwards. The magnetic-field profile adjusts to reach an equilibrium value of the plasma $\beta$ parameter (the ratio of midplane thermal pressure to magnetic pressure) in the inner part of the disc. This value of $\beta$ depends strongly on the aspect ratio of the disc and on the turbulent magnetic Prandtl number, and lies in the range $10^4-10^7$ for protoplanetary discs. Such a magnetic field is expected to affect significantly the dynamics of protoplanetary discs by increasing the strength of MHD turbulence and launching an outflow. We discuss the implications of our results for the evolution of protoplanetary discs and for the formation of powerful jets as observed in T-Tauri star systems.

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J. Guilet and G. Ogilvie
Tue, 18 Mar 14