ISM turbulence driven by the magnetorotational instability

Robert A. Piontek, Eve Charis Ostriker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have performed numerical simulations which were designed to further our understanding of the turbulent interstellar medium (ISM). Our simulations include a multi-phase thermodynamic model of the ISM, magnetic fields, and sheared rotation, allowing us to study the effects of the magnetorotational instability (MRI) in an environment containing high density cold clouds embedded in a warm, low density, ambient medium. These models have shown that the MRI is indeed a significant source of turbulence, particularly at low mean densities typical of the outer regions of the Milky Way, where star formation rates are low, but high levels of turbulence persist. Here, we summarize past findings, as well as our most recent models which include vertical stratification, allowing us to self-consistently model the vertical distribution of material in the disk.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)65-69
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the International Astronomical Union
Issue numberS237
StatePublished - Aug 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Clouds
  • ISM: general
  • Kinematics and dynamics
  • Magnetic fields
  • Structure


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