Magnetic Fields Around Black Holes
Garofalo, David Andrea
Reynolds, Christopher S.
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Active Galactic Nuclei are the most powerful long-lived objects in the universe. They are thought to harbor supermassive black holes that range from 1 million solar masses to 1000 times that value and possibly greater. Theory and observation are converging on a model for these objects that involves the conversion of gravitational potential energy of accreting gas to radiation as well as Poynting flux produced by the interaction of the rotating spacetime and the electromagnetic fields originating in the ionized accretion flow. The presence of black holes in astrophysics is taking center stage, with the output from AGN in various forms such as winds and jets influencing the formation and evolution of the host galaxy. This dissertation addresses some of the basic unanswered questions that plague our current understanding of how rotating black holes interact with their surrounding magnetized accretion disks to produce the enormous observed energy. Two magnetic configurations are examined. The first involves magnetic fields connecting the black hole with the inner accretion disk and the other involves large scale magnetic fields threading the disk and the hole. We study the effects of the former type by establishing the consequences that magnetic torques between the black hole and the inner accretion disk have on the energy dissipation profile. We attempt a plausible explanation to the observed ``Deep Minimum'' state in the Seyfert galaxy MCG-6-30-15. For the latter type of magnetic geometry, we study the effects of the strength of the magnetic field threading the black hole within the context of the cherished Blandford \& Znajek mechanism for black hole spin energy extraction. We begin by addressing the problem in the non-relativistic regime where we find that the black hole-threading magnetic field is stronger for greater disk thickness, larger magnetic Prandtl number, and for a larger accretion disk. We then study the problem in full relativity where we show that our Newtonian results are excellent approximations for slowly spinning black holes. We proceed to address the issue of the spin dependence of the Blandford \& Znajek power. The result we choose to highlight is our finding that given the validity of our assumption for the dynamical behavior of the so-called plunge region in black hole accretors, rotating black holes produce maximum Poynting flux via the Blandford \& Znajek process for a black hole spin parameter of about $a\approx0.8$. This is contrary to the conventional claim that the maximum electromagnetic flux is achieved for highest black hole spin.