Accretion disk flow is a common phenomenon in astrophysics. It provides the nursery for planetary system formation and the channel for mass transfer in interacting binary stars. Such flows are also associated with the central engine for active galactic nuclei.

Mass is redistributed in accretion disks as a consequence of angular momentum transfer. The identification of the dominant process involved is an important task in the development of accretion disk theory. Here, we review recent theoretical investigations on several important physical processes, including: 1. the removal of angular momentum from disks through hydromagnetic winds, 2. the amplification of local viscous stress through the onset of turbulence resulting from possible hydromagnetic, convective, or shear flow instabilities, 3. the transport of angular momentum carried by propagating waves, and 4. torque resulting from the presence of nonaxisymmetric unstable modes in self-gravitating and geometrically thick disks. Because of the technical nature of this subject, we present some of the mathematical formalisms in a pedagogical manner. We focus our attention on the physical discussion of the necessary conditions for each process to operate and the efficiency of angular momentum transfer to be expected. In Part II of this review, we shall present observational evidences and discuss applications of theoretical results in different astrophysical contexts.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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