Non-ideal magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) effects may play a significant role in determining the dynamics, thermal properties, and observational signatures of radiatively inefficient accretion flows onto black holes. In particular, particle acceleration during magnetic reconnection events may influence black hole spectra and flaring properties. We use representative general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic (GRMHD) simulations of black hole accretion flows to identify and explore the structures and properties of current sheets as potential sites of magnetic reconnection. In the case of standard and normal evolution (SANE) disks, we find that in the reconnection sites, the plasma beta ranges from 0.1 to 1000, the magnetization ranges from 10(-4) to 1, and the guide fields are weak compared with the reconnecting fields. In magnetically arrested (MAD) disks, we find typical values for plasma beta from 10(-2) to 10(3), magnetizations from 10(-3) to 10, and typically stronger guide fields, with strengths comparable to or greater than the reconnecting fields. These are critical parameters that govern the electron energy distribution resulting from magnetic reconnection and can be used in the context of plasma simulations to provide microphysics inputs to global simulations. We also find that ample magnetic energy is available in the reconnection regions to power the fluence of bright X-ray flares observed from the black hole in the center of the Milky Way.
Significant X-ray variability and flaring has been observed from Sgr A* but is poorly understood from a theoretical standpoint. We perform general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic simulations that take into account a population of non-thermal electrons with energy distributions and injection rates that are motivated by PIC simulations of magnetic reconnection. We explore the effects of including these non-thermal electrons on the predicted broadband variability of Sgr A* and find that X-ray variability is a generic result of localizing non-thermal electrons to highly magnetized regions, where particles are likely to be accelerated via magnetic reconnection. The proximity of these high-field regions to the event horizon forms a natural connection between IR and X-ray variability and accounts for the rapid timescales associated with the X-ray flares. The qualitative nature of this variability is consistent with observations, producing X-ray flares that are always coincident with IR flares, but not vice versa, i.e., there are a number of IR flares without X-ray counterparts.
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