Space science reviews vol:121 issue:1-4 pages:55-63
In previous publications (Keppens et al.: 2002, Astrophys. J. 569, L121; Goedbloed et al.: 2004a, Phys. Plasmas 11, 28), we have demonstrated that stationary rotation of magnetized plasma about a compact central object permits an enormous number of different MHD instabilities, with the well-known magneto-rotational instability (Velikhov, E. P.: 1959, Soviet Phys.-JETP Lett. 36, 995; Chandrasekhar, S.: 1960, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 46, 253; Balbus, S. A. and Hawley, J. F.: 1991, Astrophys. J. 376, 214) as just one of them. We here concentrate on the new instabilities found that are driven by transonic transitions of the poloidal flow. A particularly promising class of instabilities, from the point of view of MHD turbulence in accretion disks, is the class of trans-slow Alfv'en continuum modes, that occur when the poloidal flow exceeds a critical value of the slow magnetosonic speed. When this happens, virtually every magnetic/flow surface of the disk becomes unstable with respect to highly localized modes of the continuous spectrum. The mode structures rotate, in turn, about the rotating disk. These structures lock and become explosively unstable when the mass of the central object is increased beyond a certain critical value. Their growth rates then become huge, of the order of the Alfv'en transit time. These instabilities appear to have all requisite properties to facilitate accretion flows across magnetic surfaces and jet formation.