Self-gravitating warped discs around supermassive black holes

Ulubay-Siddiki A. , Gerhard O., Arnaboldi M.

MONTHLY NOTICES OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY, vol.398, no.2, pp.535-547, 2009 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 398 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Doi Number: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2009.15089.x
  • Page Numbers: pp.535-547


We consider warped equilibrium configurations for stellar and gaseous discs in the Keplerian force field of a supermassive black hole, assuming that the self-gravity of the disc provides the only acting torques. Modelling the disc as a collection of concentric circular rings and computing the torques in the non-linear regime, we show that stable, strongly warped precessing equilibria are possible. These solutions exist for a wide range of disc-to-black-hole mass ratios M-d/M-bh, can span large warp angles of up to +/- similar to 120 degrees, have inner and outer boundaries, and extend over a radial range of a factor of typically two to four. These equilibrium configurations obey a scaling relation such that in good approximation where is the (retrograde) precession frequency and is a characteristic orbital frequency in the disc. Stability was determined using linear perturbation theory and, in a few cases, confirmed by numerical integration of the equations of motion. Most of the precessing equilibria are found to be stable, but some are unstable. The main result of this study is that highly warped discs near black holes can persist for long times without any persistent forcing other than by their self-gravity. The possible relevance of this to galactic nuclei is briefly discussed.