Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

A fresh perspective on astrophysics

New models of how stars and black holes acquire their mass are redefining our understanding of these fundamental processes in astrophysics.
A fresh perspective on astrophysics
Astrophysicists are striving to unravel the mechanisms behind the formation and evolution of celestial bodies, such as stars and black holes. These objects gain mass by gravitationally attracting matter from their environments. This fascinating process, known as accretion, usually involves a disk-like structure around the celestial body. Understanding how these disks work could provide the answer to many questions in astrophysics.

The EU-funded project 'Beyond the standard accretion disk model: Theoretical foundations and observational implications' (BEYOND-STANDARD-DISK) has developed more accurate models for the processes governing accretion disk.

Building on previous work in the field, the project team aimed to develop a theoretical framework that incorporates magnetic fields into self-consistent disk models. It looked at how magnetic fields influence the turbulence that enables matter in accretion disks to spiral towards the central objects. Through numerical simulations and mathematical calculations, the project team made progress in several areas towards understanding the dynamics of magnetic fields in accretion disks around stars and black holes.

Another main objective of the project involved studying the transport processes in the low-density regions of accretion disks where the observed non-thermal radiation originates. In this respect, the team investigated plasma dynamics at the kinetic level in collaboration with the Computational Astrophysics Group at the Niels Bohr Institute of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Building on these ideas, the team also conducted breakthrough studies on the subject of dilute plasmas by studying new aspects of the magnetothermal instability (MTI) and the heat-flux-buoyancy instability (HBI), that play a key role in galaxy clusters.

Armed with a powerful set of results, the team published several papers that have brought the scientific community closer to understanding the precise mechanics of accretion disks. Many fields in astrophysics will benefit from this research, providing new models and insight regarding accretion disks, planet formation and the impact of supermassive black holes on galaxy evolution. The high international profile of these subjects will enhance the European Research Area's (ERA) competitiveness in the fascinating interdisciplinary field of theoretical astrophysics.

Related information

Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top