Julian H. Krolik

Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, United States

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Publications (152)676.81 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: We present the results of local, vertically stratified, radiation MHD shearing box simulations of MRI turbulence appropriate for the hydrogen ionizing regime of dwarf nova and soft X-ray transient outbursts. We incorporate the frequency-integrated opacities and equation of state for this regime, but neglect non-ideal MHD effects and surface irradiation, and do not impose net vertical magnetic flux. We find two stable thermal equilibrium tracks in the effective temperature versus surface mass density plane, in qualitative agreement with the S-curve picture of the standard disk instability model. We find that the large opacity at temperatures near $10^4$K, a corollary of the hydrogen ionization transition, triggers strong, intermittent thermal convection on the upper stable branch. This convection strengthens the magnetic turbulent dynamo and greatly enhances the time-averaged value of the stress to thermal pressure ratio $\alpha$, possibly by generating vertical magnetic field that may seed the axisymmetric magnetorotational instability, and by increasing cooling so that the pressure does not rise in proportion to the turbulent dissipation. These enhanced stress to pressure ratios may alleviate the order of magnitude discrepancy between the $\alpha$-values observationally inferred in the outburst state and those that have been measured from previous local numerical simulations of magnetorotational turbulence that lack net vertical magnetic flux.
    03/2014; 787(1).
  • Constanze Roedig, Julian H. Krolik, M. Coleman Miller
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    ABSTRACT: Observations indicate that most massive galaxies contain a supermassive black hole, and theoretical studies suggest that when such galaxies have a major merger, the central black holes will form a binary and eventually coalesce. Here we discuss two spectral signatures of such binaries that may help distinguish them from ordinary AGN. These signatures are expected when the mass ratio between the holes is not extreme and the system is fed by a circumbinary disk. One such signature is a notch in the thermal continuum that has been predicted by other authors; we point out that it should be accompanied by a spectral revival at shorter wavelengths and also discuss its dependence on binary properties such as mass, mass ratio, and separation. In particular, we note that the wavelength $\lambda_n$ at which the notch occurs depends on these three parameters in such a way as to make the number of systems displaying these notches $\propto \lambda_n^{16/3}$; longer wavelength searches are therefore strongly favored. A second signature, first discussed here, is hard X-ray emission with a Wien-like spectrum at a characteristic temperature $\sim 100$ keV produced by Compton cooling of the shock generated when streams from the circumbinary disk hit the accretion disks around the individual black holes. We investigate the observability of both signatures. The hard X-ray signal may be particularly valuable as it can provide an indicator of black hole merger a few decades in advance of the event.
    02/2014; 785(2).
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    Kareem A. Sorathia, Julian H. Krolik, John F. Hawley
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    ABSTRACT: When matter orbits around a central mass obliquely with respect to the mass's spin axis, the Lense-Thirring effect causes it to precess at a rate declining sharply with radius. Ever since the work of Bardeen & Petterson (1975), it has been expected that when a fluid fills an orbiting disk, the orbital angular momentum at small radii should then align with the mass's spin. Nearly all previous work has studied this alignment under the assumption that a phenomenological "viscosity" isotropically degrades fluid shears in accretion disks, even though it is now understood that internal stress in flat disks is due to anisotropic MHD turbulence. In this paper we report a pair of matched simulations, one in MHD and one in pure (non-viscous) HD in order to clarify the specific mechanisms of alignment. As in the previous work, we find that disk warps induce radial flows that mix angular momentum of different orientation; however, we also show that the speeds of these flows are generically transonic and are only very weakly influenced by internal stresses other than pressure. In particular, MHD turbulence does not act in a manner consistent with an isotropic viscosity. When MHD effects are present, the disk aligns, first at small radii and then at large; alignment is only partial in the HD case. We identify the specific angular momentum transport mechanisms causing alignment and show how MHD effects permit them to operate more efficiently. Lastly, we relate the speed at which an alignment front propagates outward (in the MHD case) to the rate at which Lense-Thirring torques deliver angular momentum at smaller radii.
    The Astrophysical Journal 09/2013; 777(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
  • M. Coleman Miller, Julian H. Krolik
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    ABSTRACT: Recent studies of accretion onto supermassive black hole binaries suggest that much, perhaps most, of the matter eventually accretes onto one hole or the other. If so, then for binaries whose inspiral from ~1 pc to 0.001 - 0.01 pc is driven by interaction with external gas, both the binary orbital axis and the individual black hole spins can be reoriented by angular momentum exchange with this gas. Here we show that, unless the binary mass ratio is far from unity, the spins of the individual holes align with the binary orbital axis in a time few-100 times shorter than the binary orbital axis aligns with the angular momentum direction of the incoming circumbinary gas; the spin of the secondary aligns more rapidly than that of the primary by a factor ~(m_1/m_2)^{1/2}>1. Thus the binary acts as a stabilizing agent, so that for gas-driven systems, the black hole spins are highly likely to be aligned (or counteraligned if retrograde accretion is common) with each other and with the binary orbital axis. This alignment can significantly reduce the recoil speed resulting from subsequent black hole merger.
    The Astrophysical Journal 07/2013; 774(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Global disk simulations provide a powerful tool for investigating accretion and the underlying magnetohydrodynamic turbulence driven by the magneto-rotational instability (MRI). Using them to predict accurately quantities such as stress, accretion rate, and surface brightness profile requires that purely numerical effects, arising from both resolution and algorithm, be understood and controlled. We use the flux-conservative Athena code to conduct a series of experiments on disks having a variety of magnetic topologies to determine what constitutes adequate resolution. We develop and apply several resolution metrics: Qz and Qphi, the ratio of the grid zone size to the characteristic MRI wavelength, alpha_mag, the ratio of the Maxwell stress to the magnetic pressure, and the ratio of radial to toroidal magnetic field energy. For the initial conditions considered here, adequate resolution is characterized by Qz > 15, Qphi > 20, alpha_mag = 0.45, and a field energy ratio of 0.2. These values are associated with > 35 zones per scaleheight, a result consistent with shearing box simulations. Numerical algorithm is also important. Use of the HLLE flux solver or second-order interpolation can significantly degrade the effective resolution compared to the HLLD flux solver and third-order interpolation. Resolution at this standard can be achieved only with large numbers of grid zones, arranged in a fashion that matches the symmetries of the problem and the scientific goals of the simulation.
    The Astrophysical Journal 06/2013; 772(2). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the results of a new global radiation transport code coupled to a general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic simulation of an accreting, non-rotating black hole. For the first time, we are able to explain from first principles in a self-consistent way all the components seen in the X-ray spectra of stellar-mass black holes, including a thermal peak and all the features associated with strong hard X-ray emission: a power law extending to high energies, a Compton reflection hump, and a broad iron line. Varying only the mass accretion rate, we are able to reproduce a wide range of X-ray states seen in most galactic black hole sources. The temperature in the corona is Te ~ 10 keV in a boundary layer near the disk and rises smoothly to Te 100 keV in low-density regions far above the disk. Even as the disk's reflection edge varies from the horizon out to 6M as the accretion rate decreases, we find that the shape of the Fe Kα line is remarkably constant. This is because photons emitted from the plunging region are strongly beamed into the horizon and never reach the observer. We have also carried out a basic timing analysis of the spectra and find that the fractional variability increases with photon energy and viewer inclination angle, consistent with the coronal hot spot model for X-ray fluctuations.
    The Astrophysical Journal 05/2013; 769(2):156. · 6.73 Impact Factor
  • Kareem A. Sorathia, Julian H. Krolik, John F. Hawley
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    ABSTRACT: Orbiting disks may exhibit bends due to a misalignment between the angular momentum of the inner and outer regions of the disk. We begin a systematic simulational inquiry into the physics of warped disks with the simplest case: the relaxation of an unforced warp under pure fluid dynamics, i.e., with no internal stresses other than Reynolds stress. We focus on the nonlinear regime in which the bend rate is large compared to the disk aspect ratio. When warps are nonlinear, strong radial pressure gradients drive transonic radial motions along the disk's top and bottom surfaces that efficiently mix angular momentum. The resulting nonlinear decay rate of the warp increases with the warp rate and the warp width, but, at least in the parameter regime studied here, is independent of the sound speed. The characteristic magnitude of the associated angular momentum fluxes likewise increases with both the local warp rate and the radial range over which the warp extends; it also increases with increasing sound speed, but more slowly than linearly. The angular momentum fluxes respond to the warp rate after a delay that scales with the square root of the time for sound waves to cross the radial extent of the warp. These behaviors are at variance with a number of the assumptions commonly used in analytic models to describe linear warp dynamics.
    The Astrophysical Journal 04/2013; 768(2):133. · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this document, we describe the scientific potential of blazar observations with a X-ray polarimetry mission like GEMS (Gravity and Extreme Magnetism SMEX). We describe five blazar science investigations that such a mission would enable: (i) the structure and the role of magnetic fields in AGN jets, (ii) analysis of the polarization of the synchrotron X-ray emission from AGN jets, (iii) discrimination between synchrotron self-Compton and external Compton models for blazars with inverse Compton emission in the X-ray band, (iv) a precision study of the polarization properties of the X-ray emission from Cen-A, (v) tests of Lorentz Invariance based on X-ray polarimetric observations of blazars. We conclude with a discussion of a straw man observation program and recommended accompanying multiwavelength observations.
    03/2013;
  • Jeremy D. Schnittman, Julian H. Krolik
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    ABSTRACT: We present a new code for radiation transport around Kerr black holes, including arbitrary emission and absorption terms, as well as electron scattering and polarization. The code is particularly useful for analyzing accretion flows made up of optically thick disks and optically thin coronae. We give a detailed description of the methods employed in the code, and also present results from a number of numerical tests to assess its accuracy and convergence.
    The Astrophysical Journal 02/2013; 777(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We examine the expected X-ray polarization properties of neutron-star X-ray sources of various types, e.g., accretion and rotation powered pulsars, magnetars, and low-mass X-ray binaries. We summarize the model calculations leading to these expected properties. We describe how a comparison of these with their observed properties, as inferred from GEMS data, will probe the essential dynamical, electromagnetic, plasma, and emission processes in neutron-star binaries, discriminate between models of these processes, and constrain model parameters. An exciting goal is the first observational demonstration in this context of the existence of vacuum resonance, a fundamental quantum electrodynamical phenomenon first described in the 1930s.
    01/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: We present here a summary of the scientific goals behind the Gravity and Extreme Magnetism SMEX (GEMS) X-ray polarimetry mission's black hole (BH) observing program. The primary targets can be divided into two classes: stellar-mass galactic BHs in accreting binaries, and super-massive BHs in the centers of active galactic nuclei (AGN). The stellar-mass BHs can in turn be divided into various X-ray spectral states: thermal-dominant (disk), hard (radio jet), and steep power-law (hot corona). These different spectral states are thought to be generated by different accretion geometries and emission mechanisms. X-ray polarization is an ideal tool for probing the geometry around these BHs and revealing the specific properties of the accreting gas.
    01/2013;
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    Norita Kawanaka, Tsvi Piran, Julian H. Krolik
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    ABSTRACT: A hyperaccretion disk formed around a stellar mass black hole is a plausible model for the central engine that powers gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). If the central black hole rotates and a poloidal magnetic field threads its horizon, a powerful relativistic jet may be driven by a process resembling the Blandford-Znajek mechanism. We estimate the luminosity of such a jet assuming that the poloidal magnetic field strength is comparable to the inner accretion disk pressure. We show that the jet efficiency attains its maximal value when the accretion flow is cooled via optically-thin neutrino emission. The jet luminosity is much larger than the energy deposition through neutrino-antineutrino annihilation provided that the black hole is spinning rapidly enough. When the accretion rate onto a rapidly spinning black hole is large enough (> 0.003-0.01M_sun/sec), the predicted jet luminosity is sufficient to drive a GRB.
    The Astrophysical Journal 11/2012; 766(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    Tsvi Piran, Julian Krolik
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    ABSTRACT: We explore the temporal structure of tidal disruption events pointing out the corresponding transitions in the lightcurves of the thermal accretion disk and of the jet emerging from such events. The hydrodynamic time scale of the disrupted star is the minimal time scale of building up the accretion disk and the jet and it sets a limit on the rise time. This suggest that Swift J1644+57, that shows several flares with a rise time as short as a few hundred seconds could not have arisen from a tidal disruption of a main sequence star whose hydrodynamic time is a few hours. The disrupted object must have been a white dwarf. A second important time scale is the Eddington time in which the accretion rate changes form super to sub Eddington. It is possible that such a transition was observed in the light curve of Swift J2058+05. If correct this provides intersting constraints on the parameters of the system.
    10/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: We have simulated the magnetohydrodynamic evolution of a circumbinary disk surrounding an equal-mass binary comprising two non-spinning black holes during the period in which the disk inflow time is comparable to the binary evolution time due to gravitational radiation. Both the changing spacetime and the binary orbital evolution are described by an innovative technique utilizing high-order post-Newtonian approximations. Prior to the beginning of the inspiral, the structure of the circumbinary disk is predicted well by extrapolation from Newtonian results: a gap of roughly two binary separation radii is cleared, and matter piles up at the outer edge of this gap as inflow is retarded by torques exerted by the binary; the accretion rate is roughly half its value at large radius. During inspiral, the inner edge of the disk initially moves inward in coordination with the shrinking binary, but-as the orbital evolution accelerates-the inward motion of the disk edge falls behind the rate of binary compression. In this stage, the binary torque falls substantially, but the accretion rate decreases by only 10%-20%. When the binary separation is tens of gravitational radii, the rest-mass efficiency of disk radiation is a few percent, suggesting that supermassive binary black holes could be very luminous at this stage of their evolution. Inner disk heating is modulated at a beat frequency comparable to the binary orbital frequency. However, a disk with sufficient surface density to be luminous may be optically thick, suppressing periodic modulation of the luminosity.
    The Astrophysical Journal 08/2012; 755(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the results of a new global radiation transport code coupled to a general relativistic magneto-hydrodynamic simulation of an accreting, non-rotating black hole. For the first time, we are able to explain from first principles in a self-consistent way all the components seen in the X-ray spectra of stellar-mass black holes, including a thermal peak and all the features associated with strong hard X-ray emission: a power-law extending to high energies, a Compton reflection hump, and a broad iron line. Varying only the mass accretion rate, we are able to reproduce a wide range of X-ray states seen in most galactic black hole sources. The temperature in the corona is T_e ~ 10 keV in a boundary layer near the disk and rises smoothly to T_e >~ 100 keV in low-density regions far above the disk. Even as the disk's reflection edge varies from the horizon out to ~ 6M as the accretion rate decreases, we find that the shape of the Fe K\alpha line is remarkably constant. This is because photons emitted from the plunging region are strongly beamed into the horizon and never reach the observer. We have also carried out a basic timing analysis of the spectra and find that the fractional variability increases with photon energy and viewer inclination angle, consistent with the coronal hot spot model for X-ray fluctuations.
    07/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: In this white paper, we discuss the concept of a next-generation X-ray mission called BEST (Black hole Evolution and Space Time). The mission concept uses a 3000 square centimeter effective area mirror (at 6 keV) to achieve unprecedented sensitivities for hard X-ray imaging spectrometry (5-70 keV) and for broadband X-ray polarimetry (2-70 keV). BEST can make substantial contributions to our understanding of the inner workings of accreting black holes, our knowledge about the fabric of extremely curved spacetime, and the evolution of supermassive black holes. BEST will allow for time resolved studies of accretion disks. With a more than seven times larger mirror area and a seven times wider bandpass than GEMS, BEST will take X-ray polarimetry to a new level: it will probe the time variability of the X-ray polarization from stellar mass and supermassive black holes, and it will measure the polarization properties in 30 independent energy bins. These capabilities will allow BEST to conduct tests of accretion disk models and the underlying spacetimes. With three times larger mirror area and ten times better angular resolution than NuSTAR, BEST will be able to make deep field observations with a more than 15 times better sensitivity than NuSTAR. The mission will be able to trace the evolution of obscured and unobscured black holes in the redshift range from zero to six, covering the most important epoch of supermassive black hole growth. The hard X-ray sensitivity of BEST will enable a deep census of non-thermal particle populations. BEST will give us insights into AGN feedback by measuring the particle luminosity injected by AGNs into the interstellar medium (ISM) of their hosts, and will map the emission from particles accelerated at large scale structure shocks. Finally, BEST has the potential to constrain the equation of state of neutron stars (NS).
    05/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: As 2 black holes bound to each other in a close binary approach merger their inspiral time becomes shorter than the characteristic inflow time of surrounding orbiting matter. Using an innovative technique in which we represent the changing spacetime in the region occupied by the orbiting matter with a 2.5PN approximation and the binary orbital evolution with 3.5PN, we have simulated the MHD evolution of a circumbinary disk surrounding an equal-mass non-spinning binary. Prior to the beginning of the inspiral, the structure of the circumbinary disk is predicted well by extrapolation from Newtonian results. The binary opens a low-density gap whose radius is roughly two binary separations, and matter piles up at the outer edge of this gap as inflow is retarded by torques exerted by the binary; nonetheless, the accretion rate is diminished relative to its value at larger radius by only about a factor of 2. During inspiral, the inner edge of the disk at first moves inward in coordination with the shrinking binary, but as the orbital evolution accelerates, the rate at which the inner edge moves toward smaller radii falls behind the rate of binary compression. In this stage, the rate of angular momentum transfer from the binary to the disk slows substantially, but the net accretion rate decreases by only 10-20%. When the binary separation is tens of gravitational radii, the rest-mass efficiency of disk radiation is a few percent, suggesting that supermassive binary black holes in galactic nuclei could be very luminous at this stage of their evolution. If the luminosity were optically thin, it would be modulated at a frequency that is a beat between the orbital frequency of the disk's surface density maximum and the binary orbital frequency. However, a disk with sufficient surface density to be luminous should also be optically thick; as a result, the periodic modulation may be suppressed.
    04/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: Fully general relativistic numerical solutions to magnetized accretion onto black hole binaries are computationally very expensive. Current efforts are limited to very short binary separations. On the other extreme, however, point-particle Newtonian mechanics is used to accurately model accretion onto binaries with very large separations. In order to bridge the gap between these two extreme regimes, we construct a global time-dependent analytic approximation to the binary spacetime metric by asymptotically matching analytic metric approximations with different regions of validity. We apply black hole perturbation theory in the inner zone; 2.5 post-Newtonian theory in the near zone; and post-Minkowskian theory consistent with post-Newtonian theory in the far zone. In addition, we employ 3.5 post-Newtonian equations of motion to accurately describe the binary dynamics in its inspiral phase. We find the spacetime to be accurate to the expected leading post-Newtonian order, and demonstrate its reasonably small violations of the Hamiltonian and momentum constraints.
    03/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: The coincident observation of electromagnetic and gravitational wave signals from supermassive black hole (BH) mergers would provide a bounty to physics: e.g., a new redshift-distance measurement, improved source localization, and tighter constraints on source parameters (e.g., BH masses, BH spins, disk characteristics). Previous simulation work has focused on the two extremes: very close to merger where numerical relativity is required, or at large binary separations where Newtonian gravity theory is accurate. Our work here investigates an intermediate regime, where the post-Newtonian (PN) approximation is valid yet close enough so that separation shrinkage timescale is comparable to matter inflow timescales. With our PN gravity model, we evolve a magnetized disk using a modern general relativistic magnetohydrodynamics code. We will show that many aspects of the disk follow the binary inward as its separation diminishes up until when the binary shrinkage timescale becomes smaller than the inflow timescale at the inner edge of the disk. We will also present predictions for the bolometric luminosity using our radiative cooling function as a proxy for emissivity.
    03/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: We present new numerical studies of a black hole accretion disk misaligned with the hole. We use 3D general relativistic magnetohydrodynamics (GRMHD) harm3d to study the dynamics of the accretion flow. For a thick torus, we confirm the results of Fragile et al., that the main disk remained tilted with respected to the hole and in the inner region the materials plunge into the hole from two streams. We find that a dominate m=2 mode forms in the inner region of the disk and extends further out as the tilt increases. We also discuss the properties of the Poynting flux in the misaligned disk system. We also use a general relativistic ray-tracing code to study the radiation properties of these disks. We found that a tilt disk can greatly changes both the imaging and spectrum properties of the inner disk. This suggest that more parameters should be considered when fitting the black hole accretion disk's spectrum and/or images.
    01/2012;

Publication Stats

5k Citations
676.81 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1994–2014
    • Johns Hopkins University
      • Department of Physics and Astronomy
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
    • Nicolaus Copernicus University
      Toruń, Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Poland
  • 2005–2010
    • Princeton University
      • Department of Astrophysical Sciences
      Princeton, New Jersey, United States
  • 2009
    • Space Telescope Science Institute
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 2005–2009
    • University of Virginia
      • Department of Astronomy
      Charlottesville, Virginia, United States
  • 2002
    • The University of Tokyo
      • Institute for Cosmic Ray Research
      Edo, Tōkyō, Japan