MHD Simulations of Magnetized Stars in the Propeller Regime of Accretion
1 Department of Astronomy, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850
2 Department of Applied and Engineering Physics, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850
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Published online: 8 January 2014
Accreting magnetized stars may be in the propeller regime of disc accretion in which the angular velocity of the stellar magnetosphere exceeds that of the inner disc. In these systems, the stellar magnetosphere acts as a centrifugal barrier and inhibits matter accretion onto the rapidly rotating star. Instead, the matter accreting through the disc accumulates at the disc-magnetosphere interface where it picks up angular momentum and is ejected from the system as a wide-angled outflow which gradually collimates at larger distances from the star. If the ejection rate is lower than the accretion rate, the matter will accumulate at the boundary faster than it can be ejected; in this case, accretion onto the star proceeds through an episodic accretion instability in which the episodes of matter accumulation are followed by a brief episode of simultaneous ejection and accretion of matter onto the star. In addition to the matter dominated wind component, the propeller outflow also exhibits a well-collimated, magnetically-dominated Poynting jet which transports energy and angular momentum away from the star. The propeller mechanism may explain some of the weakly-collimated jets and winds observed around some T Tauri stars as well as the episodic variability present in their light curves. It may also explain some of the quasi-periodic variability observed in cataclysmic variables, millisecond pulsars and other magnetized stars.
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