Striped Blandford/Znajek jets from advection of small-scale magnetic field

J. F. Mahlmann*, A. Levinson, M. A. Aloy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Black hole - accretion disc systems are the central engines of relativistic jets from stellar to galactic scales. We numerically quantify the unsteady outgoing Poynting flux through the horizon of a rapidly spinning black hole endowed with a rotating accretion disc. The disc supports small-scale, concentric, flux tubes with zero net magnetic flux. Our general relativistic force-free electrodynamics simulations follow the accretion on to the black hole over several hundred dynamical time-scales in 3D. For the case of counter-rotating accretion discs, the average process efficiency reaches up to (ϵ)≈ 0.43, compared to a stationary energy extraction by the Blandford/Znajek process. The process efficiency depends on the crosssectional area of the loops, i.e. on the product l × h, where l is the radial loop thickness and h its vertical scale height. We identify a strong correlation between efficient electromagnetic energy extraction and the quasi-stationary setting of ideal conditions for the operation of the Blandford/Znajek process (e.g. optimal field line angular velocity and fulfillment of the so-called Znajek condition). Remarkably, the energy extraction operates intermittently (alternating episodes of high and low efficiency) without imposing any large-scale magnetic field embedding the central object. Scaling our results to supermassive black holes,we estimate that the typical variability time-scale of the system is of the order of days to months. Such time-scales may account for the longest variability scales of TeV emission observed, e.g. in M87.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4203-4225
Number of pages23
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020


  • Accretion
  • Accretion discs
  • Black hole physics -magnetic fields -methods: numerical


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