On the formation of multiple concentric rings and gaps in protoplanetary disks
Bae et al
As spiral waves driven by a planet in a gaseous disk steepen into a shock, they deposit angular momentum, opening a gap in the disk. This has been well studied using both linear theory and numerical simulations, but so far, only for the primary spiral arm -- the one directly attached to the planet. Using two-dimensional hydrodynamic simulations, we show that the secondary and tertiary arms driven by a planet can also open gaps as they steepen into shocks. The depths of the secondary/tertiary gaps in surface density grow with time in a low viscosity disk (α=5×10−5), so even low-mass planets (e.g., super-Earth or mini-Neptune) embedded in the disk can open multiple observable gaps, provided that sufficient time has passed. Applying our results to the HL Tau disk, we show that a single 30 Earth-mass planet embedded in the ring at 68.8 au (B5) can reasonably well reproduce the positions of the two major gaps at 13.2 and 32.3 au (D1 and D2), and roughly reproduce two other major gaps at 64.2 and 74.7 au (D5 and D6) seen in the mm continuum. The positions of secondary/tertiary gaps are found to be sensitive to the planetary mass and the disk temperature profile, so with accurate observational measurements on the temperature structure we can use the positions of multiple gaps to constrain the mass of the planet. We also comment on the gaps seen in the TW Hya and HD 163296 disk.