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J. M. Blondin (North Carolina State University)
The effects of binary tidal forces on transport within an accretion disk are studied with a time-dependent hydrodynamical model of an isothermal accretion disk. Tidal forces quickly truncate the accretion disk to radii of order half the average radius of the Roche lobe, and excite a two-armed spiral wave that remains stationary in the rotating reference frame of the binary system. We measure an effective alpha of order 0.1 near the outer edge of the disk in all of our models, independent of the mass ratio, Mach number, and radial density profile. However, in cold disks with high Mach number, the effective alpha drops rapidly with decreasing radius such that it falls below our threshold of measurement (0.001) at a radius of only one third the tidal radius. In warmer disks where the Mach numbers remain below 20, we can measure an effective alpha down to radii 10 times smaller than the maximum size of the disk.
This research is supported by an NSF CAREER Award.