Study of the Transition from MRI to Magnetic Turbulence via Parasitic Instability by a High-order MHD Simulation Code

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Magnetic turbulence in accretion disks under ideal magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) conditions is expected to be driven by the magneto-rotational instability (MRI) followed by secondary parasitic instabilities. We develop a three-dimensional ideal MHD code that can accurately resolve turbulent structures, and carry out simulations with a net vertical magnetic field in a local shearing box disk model to investigate the role of parasitic instabilities in the formation process of magnetic turbulence. Our simulations reveal that a highly anisotropic Kelvin-Helmholtz (K-H) mode parasitic instability evolves just before the first peak in turbulent stress and then breaks large-scale shear flows created by MRI. The wavenumber of the enhanced parasitic instability is larger than the theoretical estimate, because the shear flow layers sometimes become thinner than those assumed in the linear analysis. We also find that interaction between antiparallel vortices caused by the K-H mode parasitic instability induces small-scale waves that break the shear flows. On the other hand, at repeated peaks in the nonlinear phase, anisotropic wavenumber spectra are observed only in the small wavenumber region and isotropic waves dominate at large wavenumbers unlike for the first peak. Restructured channel flows due to MRI at the peaks in nonlinear phase seem to be collapsed by the advection of small-scale shear structures into the restructured flow and resultant mixing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number174
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Feb 1


  • accretion, accretion disks
  • instabilities
  • magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
  • turbulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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