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Local Simulations of MRI turbulence with Meshless Methods

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The magneto-rotational instability (MRI) is one of the most important processes in sufficiently ionized astrophysical disks. Grid-based simulations, especially those using the local shearing box approximation, provide a powerful tool to study the ensuing nonlinear turbulence. On the other hand, while meshless methods have been widely used in both cosmology, galactic dynamics, and planet formation they have not been fully deployed on the MRI problem. We present local unstratified and vertically stratified MRI simulations with two meshless MHD schemes: a recent implementation of SPH MHD (Price2012), and a MFM MHD scheme with a constrained gradient divergence cleaning scheme, as implemented in the GIZMO code \citep{Hopkins2017}. Concerning variants of the SPH hydro force formulation we consider both the "vanilla" SPH and the PSPH variant included in GIZMO. We find, as expected, that the numerical noise inherent in these schemes affects turbulence significantly. A high order kernel, free of the pairing instability, is necessary. Both schemes can adequately simulate MRI turbulence in unstratified shearing boxes with net vertical flux. The turbulence, however, dies out in zero-net-flux unstratified boxes, probably due to excessive and numerical dissipation. In zero-net-flux vertically stratified simulations, MFM can reproduce the MRI dynamo and its characteristic butterfly diagram for several tens of orbits before ultimately decaying. In contrast, extremely strong toroidal fields, as opposed to sustained turbulence, develop in equivalent simulations using SPH MHD. This unphysical state in SPH MHD is likely caused by a combination of excessive artificial viscosity, numerical resistivity, and the relatively large residual errors in the divergence of the magnetic field remaining even after cleaning procedures are applied.



accretion, accretion disks, magnetohydrodynamics (MHD), methods: numerical, turbulence

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Astrophysical Journal, Supplement Series

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American Astronomical Society


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