General-relativistic simulations of black-hole-neutron-star mergers: Effects of tilted magnetic fields

Zachariah B. Etienne, Vasileios Paschalidis, Stuart L. Shapiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Black-hole-neutron-star (BHNS) binary mergers can form disks in which magnetorotational instability (MRI)-induced turbulence may drive accretion onto the remnant BH, supporting relativistic jets and providing the engine for a short-hard gamma-ray burst (SGRB). Our earlier study of magnetized BHNSs showed that NS tidal disruption winds the magnetic field into a toroidal configuration, with poloidal fields so weak that capturing MRI with full-disk simulations would require ∼108 CPU hours. In that study we imposed equatorial symmetry, suppressing poloidal magnetic fields that might be generated from plasma crossing the orbital plane. Here we show that initial conditions that break this symmetry (i.e., tilted poloidal magnetic fields in the NS) generate much stronger poloidal fields in the disk, indicating that asymmetric initial conditions may be necessary for establishing BHNS mergers as SGRB progenitors via fully general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic simulations. We demonstrate that BHNS mergers may form an SGRB engine under the right conditions by seeding the remnant disk from an unmagnetized BHNS simulation with purely poloidal fields dynamically unimportant initially, but strong enough to resolve MRI. Magnetic turbulence occurs in the disk, driving accretion and supporting Poynting-dominated jet outflows sufficient to power an SGRB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number084026
JournalPhysical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation and Cosmology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 9 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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