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Prograde and retrograde black holes: whose jet is more powerful?



Princeton Center for Theoretical Science Fellow.


The outflow efficiency (η) from black hole (BH) accretion disc systems is known to depend upon both the BH spin (a) and the amount of large-scale magnetic flux threading the BH and disc. Semi-analytical flux-trapping models suggest retrograde BHs should trap much more large-scale magnetic flux near the BH leading to much higher η than for prograde BHs. We self-consistently determine the amount of large-scale magnetic flux trapped by rapidly spinning (a=−0.9 and 0.9) BHs using global 3D time-dependent non-radiative general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic simulations of thick (h/r≈ 0.3–0.6) discs. We find that BH-trapped flux builds up until it is strong enough to disrupt the inner accretion disc. Contrary to prior flux-trapping models, which do not include the back-reaction of magnetic flux on the disc, our simulations show prograde BHs trap more magnetic flux, leading to about three times higher η than retrograde BHs for |a|= 0.9. Both spin orientations can produce highly efficient jets, η∼ 100 per cent, with increasing η for increasing disc thickness. The similarity of η for prograde and retrograde BHs makes it challenging to infer the sign of a based on jet energetics alone.