An instability associated with a magnetosphere-disk interaction

H. C. Spruit*, Ronald E. Taam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


The evolution of a thin accretion disk surrounding a rapidly rotating magnetosphere is considered. By taking account of the variations of the magnetospheric boundary in response to the conditions at the inner edge of the disk, we find from linear analysis and numerical computation that the accretion disk can become unstable. Mass can be accreted by the central object in a cyclic fashion, with the cycle involving the storage and release of mass in the inner parts of the disk. The physical origin of the instability is associated with the variations of the magnetospheric boundary about corotation. The recurrence time scale of the cycle can vary by several orders of magnitude depending on the details of the conditions at the magnetosphere. The possible applicability of this instability process to the "rapid burster" MXB 1730-335 is briefly discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)593-604
Number of pages12
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 10 1993


  • Accretion, accretion disks
  • Instabilities
  • MHD
  • X-rays: bursts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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