Radiative transfer in obliquely illuminated accretion disks

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The illumination of an accretion disk around a black hole or neutron star by the central compact object or the disk itself often determines its spectrum, stability, and dynamics. The transport of radiation within the disk is, in general, a multidimensional, nonaxisymmetric problem, which is challenging to solve. Here I present a method of decomposing the radiative transfer equation that describes absorption, emission, and Compton scattering in an obliquely illuminated disk into a set of four one-dimensional transfer equations. I show that the exact calculation of the ionization balance and radiation heating of the accretion disk requires the solution of only one of the one-dimensional equations, which can be solved using existing numerical methods. I present a variant of the Feautrier method for solving the full set of equations, which accounts for the fact that the scattering kernels in the individual transfer equations are not forward-backward symmetric. I then apply this method in calculating the albedo of a cold, geometrically thin accretion disk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-314
Number of pages9
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Jul 20 2002


  • Accretion, accretion disks
  • Methods: numerical
  • Radiative transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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