Orbital advection by interpolation: A fast and accurate numerical scheme for super-fast MHD flows

Bryan M. Johnson, Xiaoyue Guan, Charles F. Gammie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In numerical models of thin astrophysical disks that use a Eulerian scheme, gas orbits supersonically through a fixed grid. As a result the time step is sharply limited by the Courant condition. Also, because the mean flow speed with respect to the grid varies with position, the truncation error varies systematically with position. For hydrodynamic (unmagnetized) disks an algorithm called FARGO has been developed that advects the gas along its mean orbit using a separate interpolation substep. This relaxes the constraint imposed by the Courant condition, which now depends only on the peculiar velocity of the gas, and results in a truncation error that is more nearly independent of position. This paper describes a FARGO-like algorithm suitable for evolving magnetized disks. Our method is second-order-accurate on a smooth flow and preserves ▽ · B = 0 to machine precision. The main restriction is that B must be discretized on a staggered mesh. We give a detailed description of an implementation of the code and demonstrate that it produces the expected results on linear and nonlinear problems. We also point out how the scheme might be generalized to make the integration of other supersonic/superfast flows more efficient. Although our scheme reduces the variation of truncation error with position, it does not eliminate it. We show that the residual position dependence leads to characteristic radial variations in the density over long integrations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-387
Number of pages15
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • MHD
  • Methods: numerical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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